7 Things You Need for Milking Goats

Goat Milking Equipment

You will need the following items whether you will be milking by hand or with a machine. All of these things can be purchased through goat supply companies, but in some cases you can make your own or come up with creative substitutes that cost less.

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Milk Stand

Don’t skip this one! Someone once bought a perfectly trained milk goat from me and then complained that she was having problems milking the doe. After a discussion, I realized the woman did not have a milk stand. There are a few sweet goats in this world that will let you milk them anywhere, but you need to use a milk stand for most goats, especially if you are a beginner. Trying to milk without a stanchion will lead to fighting with the doe, which sets you up for failure when you do put her on a milk stand because she’s had a negative experience with milking. Goats have great memories, so you want to start out right.

You can buy a fancy metal milk stand, or you can make a wooden one using scrap wood you find around your farm. Commercially made metal milk stands are nice because the deck is metal mesh, so when you spill milk on it (and you will spill milk), the milk stand doesn’t become slippery. Wooden milk stands get very slippery when they’re wet. The big difference between the two, of course, is price. A professionally made metal one is a few hundred dollars, whereas you can make one for a fraction of that price or even free if you have some spare wood.

The height of the milk stand is important. It should be short enough for the goat to jump up on it but high enough for you to sit comfortably next to it and milk the goat. Commercial milking parlors usually have very high milking stands, which goats can access by walking up a ramp, and the humans stand behind the does to connect the inflations from the milking machine. If you have back problems, this is probably the best option so that you are not bending and twisting your back too much.

Milk Bucket

milk bucket

The bucket should be stainless steel and seamless for ease of cleaning. You don’t want any cracks or seams in the bucket where bacteria can hide. A six-quart bucket works well for most standard goats, but you’ll want a shorter one for Nigerians. Milking machines do not get the udder completely milked out, so a milk bucket is still needed for hand milking to empty the udder. (If you are milking several goats, you’ll want a milk tote to collect all the milk in.)

Strip Cup

Strip cup

An official strip cup is a stainless steel container with a wire mesh filter that sits on the top. The filter alerts you to chunky milk (a symptom of mastitis) before you start milking. However, you can use a repurposed tin can or an old coffee cup. The strip cup is used to collect the first few squirts of milk from each teat. Research has shown that the first squirts contain a larger amount of bacteria. We give this milk to the barn cats after milking.

Udder Supplies

You can buy disposable udder wipes or baby wipes for cleaning the udder. Some people use a bucket of warm, soapy water and actually wash the udder. We simply use a warm washcloth. Whatever cloth or wipe you decide to use, a clean one must be used for each doe so that you don’t spread germs.

Teat Dip

Iodine is used in organic dairies to dip teats, but there are also chemical teat dips and sprays available. If you use a dip, you’ll need something to hold it in. Old-fashioned film canisters or prescription pill bottles work well. If you will be letting the does out to be with their kids after milking, you don’t have to use a teat dip because the kids will be nursing through the day. The purpose of the teat dip is to sanitize the end of the teat as it closes up during the 15 or 20 minutes following milking. This doesn’t happen when a doe is nursing kids because kids nurse so often. The frequent nursing reduces the risk for infection as it keeps milk flowing out of the teat, which continually flushes out bacteria.

Milk Filters

Goat hair and dust will inevitably wind up in your milk bucket, so you’ll want to filter the milk before storing it. Filters are disposable. Cheesecloth stretched over the top of the bucket while milking also works as a filter, but you’ll need to wash and boil the cheesecloth between uses to keep it sanitary.

Storage Containers

You probably already have plenty of things in your house to use for milk storage, such as a pitcher with a lid or canning jars with plastic lids. We also use carafes and old-fashioned milk bottles and cover the tops with aluminum foil. If you don’t cover the container, the milk will develop an off taste and a dry film on the top.

This is an excerpt from Raising Goats Naturally: The Complete Guide to Milk, Meat, and More, 2nd Revised Edition by Deborah Niemann.

Raising Goats Naturally
What you need to milk goats

18 thoughts on “7 Things You Need for Milking Goats”

    • I rinse it with cold water and then put it in the dishwasher. If you don’t use a dishwasher, you can just wash it like you do all of your dishes.

  1. Do you just use regular iodine from the first aide section or does it need to be of a specific percentage of iodine? Can you re-dip into the same container or do you need to refreshen it for each goat? I’ve never used a teat dip…must I have just been fortunate and am taking a risk if I continue not to do so? Thanks so much!

    • Iodine for teat dip is usually 1-2%. If the iodine at the store is higher, you can just dilute it. You can use the same container for each goat.

      Since our does raise their own kids, we never got into the habit of using a teat dip, even after their kids are sold and/or weaned. We have only had 3 does get mastitis in 19 years, so I don’t feel like it’s been a problem that we don’t use a teat dip. We tried to start doing it a few different times, but it never turned into a habit.

  2. Hello! As I read above you will need a milking stand for your goat. I am planning on building one, but I have two goats that we will need to milk, and they’re heights are completely different, so will I be needing 2 milking stands? Also, I am not sure of weather it was on here or a different webstite that I saw blueprints for how to make a milking stand, so can I find blueprints for that on here, or will I have to look elsewhere?

    Sincerely a fan of your website,
    Chloe Wilson

    • You don’t need to build two. We used to have LaManchas, and they also fit on the stand, as well as the Nigerian dwarf does. I don’t have blueprints on here, but it is on the list of things I’m planning to add to my online courses.

  3. Hi! I have a question, I have a pregnant goat who is expecting soon, if she does end up needing milked by us, will we need to get a milking stand? She is a pygmy goat, so will I need a specific type of bucket?

    Thank you,
    Hermione Ranger

    • Yes, you definitely need a milk stand. It is a very rare goat that will just stand there in the middle of the barn and let you milk her. Plus that’s super uncomfortable for you if a pygmy goat is standing on the ground. You’d be squatting or bending or sitting on the ground. For a pygmy you would just need a very short bucket.

  4. Hello, thanks for all the information, I am reading lots of your articles and learning so much! If a doe in milk is browsing in the woods or on the pasture does she still need to be supplemented with alfalfa hay? (In addition to the grain you mentioned elsewhere). My two does each had one kid about a month ago and I milk them once a day, they give about 3 cups each. I separate the kids at night and reunite them in the morning after milking. I used to feed them alfalfa hay during the winter but now that they are on the pasture I had stopped. Should I still be feeding them alfalfa?

    • Yes, it’s a good idea to give them alfalfa because the level of nutrients from the browse can vary quite a bit. If they are getting only grass, then they definitely need alfalfa because grass is not nearly as nutrient dense as browse.

      And you really should be weighing kids daily before you start separating at night so that you can see how that separation slows down their weight gain. It is usually NOT a good idea to separate kids regularly overnight before they are two months old. You will probably be shocked at what a difference you see in weight gain if you start separating them earlier. If you start separating in the first month, you will likely wind up with coccidiosis because they won’t be getting enough milk from mom to be getting enough antibodies to help them keep the coccidia under control. If these are first fresheners, then you REALLY should NOT be separating them. Most FFs have a milk supply that is adequate for twins and nothing more.

      I have a bucket-busting, 6-year-old with twins right now, and even though the kids were gaining 5-8 ounces per day, if we separate them overnight, they only gain about 2-3 ounces per day, which is not acceptable. We want our ND kids to gain 4 ounces per day average for the first 2 months. That puts them at 20 pounds by 8 to 10 weeks.

      • “It is usually NOT a good idea to separate kids regularly overnight before they are two months old.”

        That said, how do we ensure we get the milk after the kid(s) are weaned? By then, we’ve had several does starting to wean their own kids (especially bucklings) which seems to reduce their supply quite a bit. I’d heard you could start separating at two weeks, but I don’t know by who…I know a lot of DHIR testers milk and bottle feed for those 6 weeks, but it seems silly to do all that if you don’t plan to test yet lol. Any advice? Thanks in advance!

        • Separating early is a carry-over from the dairy cow industry where cows have been bred to produce far more than their calf can consume, so separating a dairy calf overnight is not a big deal, even from a day or two of age. Anyone with goats who thinks it is okay to separate kids (twins or more) overnight from two weeks is not weighing them because if they were weighing them, they’d stop separating them because the drop in weight gain is shocking.

          We were on milk test for 8 years, and we only had to separate the kids overnight for one day per month, which was not great, but it’s not going to have a big impact on the kids’ overall weight gain if it’s only one day per month. And we would do our best to get the kids to take a bottle during that 24 hours period.

          You should not be seeing a decrease in milk supply at 2 months of age, assuming you are talking about dairy does with good milking genetics. If you are talking about meat goats or sale barn goats, then they are just not reliably great milk producers. Does should be at their peak of lactation at 6-8 weeks, so they would not be weaning kids, and kids would definitely not be weaning themselves. You may either be misinterpreting what’s happening or your goats may not have very productive genetics. Kids don’t normally stop nursing or slow down until the mom’s supply decreases — not the other way around.

          We have dam-raised more than 90% of our kids, and on the rare occasion that we have had a doe that did not have kids to nurse from birth, she has always had a lower milk production than the does that are nursing kids, and we try to milk her 3x a day for the first month at least to increase her supply. Demand creates supply, and there is no way we can demand as much as kids that are with mom 24/7. In fact, we never wean doelings that we are keeping. They stay with mom forever and nurse as many months as they want because they grow big and strong and healthy with great parasite resistance.

          Many people think parasites are unavoidable, but being sure that kids get enough milk from mom is our most important tool for NOT needing dewormers and coccidiostat for our kids.

          We also found that we can get about as much milk if we just separate moms overnight starting at 2 months (or when our Nigerian kids reach 20 pounds) and milk her every morning as we would in the early years when we were weaning kids and milk 2x a day. Within about 3-4 days after taking kids away, the doe’s milk supply would always drop considerably. When the udder fills up, which it does if you are only milking 2x a day, the body thinks it doesn’t need to produce so much milk, so it slows down production.

  5. Hi, this is my first time raising goats. We got our three nubian goats bred and they are due at the end of March. The information on this website is immensely helpful to me. I have a few questions about milking and I would be very grateful if you could give me some answers: How soon do I start milking my goats after they kid? Teat dip: how long do I need to keep the teat in the iodine for it to be sealed? How large of a bucket should I purchase for it to be large enough to collect milk from three Nubians? Thank you so much!

    • This article covers all the details for getting started milking, including when to start milking because the answer is … it depends!

      The iodine doesn’t seal the teat. You are just dipping the teat in the iodine to disinfect it and kill any germs on the tip of the teat so the teat doesn’t seal itself with bacteria in there. If a doe is nursing kids, you don’t need to do that because the kids are nursing so frequently, so they are constantly flushing the pipes, so to speak, so the bacteria doesn’t have a chance to reproduce.

      You do not want to milk all three goats into one bucket. In the beginning there will probably be a lot of spilled milked from kicked buckets — usually accidental because a goat just moves her leg at the wrong angle, and you aren’t experienced enough to move the bucket before it goes flying. It’s sad enough to lose one doe’s milk. You definitely don’t want to lose milk from three does in a single kick. A one-gallon bucket should be enough for a Nubian (link above). Then you empty the bucket into another container before bringing in the next goat.

  6. My husband built a beautiful wooden milk stand for me that fits ALL my goats, from the big Nubian wether with ginourmous horns to the dinky orphan that will probably never get bigger than a border collie! He made it super tall so I can sit with my knees under it facing the goat because I have back problems. I use a milker from Dansha Farms which was all I could afford after discovering my fibromyalgia wouldn’t allow me to hand milk. It’s a different style milker but works awesome and keeps the milk clean.
    I, too, just use warm water to clean teats and don’t worry about a dip-the kids take over. The only thing I don’t bother with is checking milk beforehand. When I filter the milk afterwards, I should see any problems with it. I’ve never had any with my goats, but when milking a friend’s cow with mastitis, I saw what that looks like in the filter and it’s pretty unmistakable. I use glass 1/2 gallon jars with nice tight lids that I buy from Azure Standard. They are easy to clean and fit on any shelf in the fridge.


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