How to Raise Milk Goats

Milking a goat is similar to milking a cow
Milking a goat is similar to milking a cow (Image: thraxil/

According to the American Dairy Goat Association, more people in the world drink the milk of goats than any other single animal, including the cow. Goat's milk is generally considered to be easier to digest and less allergenic than cow's milk; because of this, it is often recommended for infants and toddlers. Goat's milk can also be used to make cheese, butter, ice cream, yogurt and other dairy products.

Choose which breed milk goat you want to raise. The American Dairy Goat Association recognizes six different types: Alpines, LaManchas, Nubians, Oberhaslis, Saanens and Toggenburgs.

Provide adequate shelter for your milk goats. Milk goats need a clean, dry environment to protect them from the wind, rain and snow. This could be something as simple as a three-sided shed, an outbuilding or a barn.

Encourage your milk goats to exercise and play by providing plenty of outside recreational space. Have a good sturdy fence that is at least 5 ft tall to ensure your goats do not escape.

Decide whether you are going to feed your goats a commercial feed or allow them to forage. While forage feeding is less expensive, it can lead to lower milk production. According to a study by the University of Minnesota Dairy Extension, hay and grain mix costs an average of $410.35 to feed one doe for a year.

Water your milk goats daily and make sure their water supply is not situated where they can easily defecate in it.

Learn to milk your goats properly. Milking a goat is like milking a cow in that everything must be sanitized before you begin. Using rubber gloves, apply a predip to each teat. Predipping involves dipping each teat into a chemical such as Dairyland CHG Teat Dip. This specific chemical is blueish-green in color and allows you to easily see how much of the teat has been covered. There are also predip chemicals that you can spray on. After letting the chemical sit for a few minutes you wipe it off with a clean rag. Predipping will help kill any harmful bacteria. Next, wrap your fingers firmly around the teats and start massaging in a downward motion, release to allow milk to build back up and repeat. Once you have a small amount of milk, check it for abnormalities. After you have checked the milk, continue massaging, gently pulling the teats and releasing until you have established a rhythm. Once your bucket is full, enjoy your milk. According to Mother Earth News, each female milk goat should produce 3 quarts of milk per day for 10 months.

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