What does it take to give every visitor a chance to milk a goat?
The goat that will be milked for demonstration has to be easy-going and have good milk production. She has to be only partially milked a dozen times a day- not the norm for a dairy animal. She gets rewarded by grain treats at every milking.
First Mr. Farmer milks her a couple of squirts in the pail, then does a few long shots at the toes of the front row to please the crowd. After he answers questions, he uses his fingers to bring milk down from the udder into the teat. He holds that milk in position while kids and parents squeeze the milk into the pail. This adds up to hundreds of squeezes each day.
Right now, we have several good goats that are interchangeable for this job. It is very important that none of her kids get loose and come over to empty her milk out during the day- if that happens, we’d need to get a different goat for the rest of the day!
Goats are very hard to keep fenced in, and we have lost countless young trees, veggie plants and flower bushes to loose goats. We have also seen goats die of all kinds of random accidents and illnesses over the years, and I think we may have learned the hard way how to keep them alive. We now have a thriving flock that we can choose among for breeding and milking stock.
We milk our goats from when they kid in April until we dry them up in December. We only milk in the morning and we leave the kids with their mamas for the rest of the day. We do this for a couple of reasons: we don’t have to be home in the evening at a certain time for milking; we can get enough milk once a day for our family of 9 to drink (2-3 gallons); and if we would want to be away for a 24 hour period, the kids can keep the mamas milked for us. It takes two people about half an hour to milk about 10 goats.
We started with goats in 2005 so we could teach our kids to milk. I will never forget the sight of my third daughter milking a goat empty before she was four years old. Check out those chubby fists in the picture. There might be a reason she was wearing a raincoat, she’s sitting in quite a puddle of milk!
We may have regrets about certain goat incidents, but no regrets about keeping goats in general. Helps you grow in more ways than one.