Milking dairy goats

We are no longer selling milk. This page remains for archival purposes.

Dairy goat facilities
We built our dairy barn in 2010, entirely of cedar lumber logged and milled on-farm, with roofing material made in Missouri. It can comfortably house four dairy does through the winter and their kidding needs in the spring, enough hay for a year, and our milking area, along with some general tool storage areas. It’s placed reasonably centrally to our current and future pastures, to minimize the distance needed to move does each morning for milking. Inside, we use a homemade cedar milking stand, with a sink linked to potable county water for basic hand washing on-site (milking equipment is washed in hot water at the house). The floor of the milking area is lined with on-farm cedar chips and renewed as needed.
Dairy goat management
We do not wean kids from their mothers, but leave them on through the summer. This means we only milk in the morning, after separating the kids and does overnight. While this lowers our daily milk yield, it makes dairy management on a diversified farm far easier (evening milkings strongly conflict with other farm work) and gives us the flexibility to skip a morning milking if we really have to, simply by not separating the kids overnight. The increase in overall farm efficiency, and the larger/tastier kids we get as a result, balances the loss of milk in our opinion. In addition, leaving the kids on their mothers during milking season helps prevent udder infections among other health benefits. Most kids are butchered for meat in the fall, the only practical way to handle them if we wish to avoid rapid overpopulation.

Our goats are kept permanently on pasture from mid-spring through early winter, maximizing their use of fresh, on-farm food while minimizing their risk of parasites, a common health issue with goats. We have one known poisonous plant on the farm, a perennial herb called White Snakeroot. It contains a toxin which can pass through a dairy animal into any consumer of the resulting milk. We have been actively managing this plant since starting our herd in 2008 and have seen or experienced no clinical signs of Snakeroot poisoning, so are comfortable with our management methods as the primary consumers of our milk & meat. More information on our handling of Snakeroot is available here.

Milking methods
Milking happens each morning, after does are brought to the dairy barn from their overnight pasture shelter. We hand-milk on simple wooden stands, using clean stainless-steel equipment. The udder is cleaned with a washable, reusable cloth, a strip cup is used to examine the morning’s milk for any problems, then the doe is milked into a standard milking bucket. The milk is then hand-carried directly to our home kitchen, where it is strained through a standard dairy filter into ½ gallon jars, to remove any unwanted impurities. These jars are immersed in a water bath for immediate cooling, then refrigerated. Milking equipment is washed in hot, soapy water and set out to dry on a dedicated table for the next morning’s use. Fresh milk is stored in a dedicated refrigerator in our packing barn, shared with fresh eggs, from which it is distributed to customers, farm workers, or our own household kitchen.

Raw milk sales
We sell our milk raw to select consumers who understand our management methods, and who sign an agreement not to consumer the milk raw. Read more about our sales policies here.

NOTE: We are not selling milk at this time.