How To Milk
Are you wanting to learn how to milk? No matter if you are milking a cow, goat or sheep the method is pretty much the same, the only real differences are how many teats the animal has, and how much milk you will get. Milk is stored in the animal’s udder. The udder is the bag that holds the milk. It is separated into two compartments or sides for goat’s and sheep and four compartments or quarters for cows. Each compartment has its own teat.
The Teat is the part that comes down from the udder that you squeeze to get the milk. Teats come in different shapes and sizes, long, short, fat or thin. Larger teats are easier to handle than smaller ones. Each teat has an orifice or hole at the end which the milk comes out of. The size of the orifice will vary, this may not seem important but once you learn how to milk, it will make a big difference. The size of the orifice greatly affects how easy it is to milk the animal, animals with small holes take longer to milk. If the orifice is small, there isn’t much that you can do about it except face the fact that this animal will be harder to milk than those with larger holes. Before purchasing an animal, you may wish to milk it and check to see how large her orifices are, in other words, check to see what size stream of milk she produces with each squirt. I don’t purchase animals with small holes as my hands ache too much by the time I am done milking.
How To Milk – Tie or Put on Stand & Feed
For the purpose of this article I am using the example of a goat to help you learn how to milk, but keep in mind milking is pretty much the same with other animals as well. One thing to note about goats milk is you should never store it in plastic. Always store in glass containers as plastic will give it a very off flavor.
The best way to keep your goat on the stand and happy while you’re milking is to feed them. I prefer a mixture of alfalfa and some organic grains. I don’t recommend medicated feeds for any animals, let alone ones you will be milking. Keep in mind that what you put into your goat is what you will get out in the form of milk, so if you want good quality milk, you will need to start with good quality feed.
Clean Udders & Clear Milk Ducts
Some people keep their goat’s udders shaved, I prefer just to clean them. Even if you keep the goat’s udders shaved it is still important to clean before each milking to avoid contamination. You can purchase udder wipes or do what I do a simply use clean, warm water, making sure to wipe teat’s as well as udders. Before cleaning with water, lightly brush off the utters either with a soft brush or with your hand to remove any loose hair, dirt, etc. Now is the time to check for scratches and cuts on the udders.
Before saving any milk, make sure to squirt milk from each teat and wipe the teat opening to flush out any blockage or bacteria. It is a good idea at this point to squirt just a little milk into a clean glass jar to check for clumps, blood or discoloration. If you see any of that, it would indicate the animal has mastitis and the milk will not be safe for drinking.
You should note that if the animal develops mastitis, you will still need to milk them as before but discard any milk and treat the animal for mastitis. Do not save any milk for drinking until the mastitis has cleared and treatment is completed.
Now To Milk
Now to begin learning how to milk, place your milking pail under the udders. (I like to use a stainless steel pail) Grab the teat as high up as possible with the side of the hand pushing up on the bag, keep your thumb and pointer finger tight as you bring your other fingers and palm closed together, all the while with a downward motion. This action will cause the milk to squirt out. The thing you will want to keep in mind is that milking is not about tugging its about pressure caused by pinching and squeezing. If you find that you are getting very little milk or none at all make sure you are keeping your thumb and first/pointer finger tight on the teat. Continue milking with this motion using one hand on each teat until you can’t get any more milk. Cows have four teats so you will need to repeat this with the second set after the first set is empty.
Once you feel you have the hang of how to milk and feel you have all the milk you can get from the udder, wait for a few seconds and push up on the udder lightly to help release another letdown. This pushing is much like what baby animals do to stimulate another milk letdown. Continue milking as before until there is no more milk. When the udder is empty, it should look wrinkled and empty.
Apply Balm or Salve
After milking, you should rub the udder and teats with salve or balm. This will help keep teats from becoming dry and cracking. One of the best balms that I have found is Bag Balm. That stuff is awesome! Even works on people for cuts and things too.
Now you know how to milk! Happy Milking!
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