Milking the goats
We are a seasonal pasture-based dairy which means that our does are bred in the fall (October-November) and have their kids in the spring (March-April). Goats lactate (produce milk) for about nine months, so our milking season begins in March and ends in December of each year. This gives the girls (and us) a two month break to rest up before the next round of kids arrives. As soon as they freshen (have their kids and start producing milk), we start producing cheese a new.
We milk the does twice a day—5:30AM and 5PM, just like a cow dairy. The "girls" come in to the milking parlor either from their spacious Coverall Barn or from the pastures and line up on our 14-doe milk stand. They are usually lining up at the door eager to come in, as they know they’re getting grain during milking. We follow sanitary practices to keep the milk and the girls’ teats and udders clean. We first sanitize their teats using a moisturizing iodine teat dip, strip out the milk in the teat, then dry off the teats before connecting the inflations of the milking machine.
Hygiene goes a long way toward keeping the does healthy. After milking, their teats are sanitized again, and they then get sent on their way back to the barn for more hay or out to the pastures to graze. As the girls are being milked, the milk is pumped directly into our refrigerated bulk tank, which is located in a separate room called the “milk house.”
Milk flowing into inflations will be pumped to our refrigerated bulk tank in the next room over from the milking parlor. Photos courtesy of Kate Arding
The milk is kept cold in the bulk tank until it is time to make cheese. We make cheese every other day, so the milk is very fresh. On the days that cheese is made, the milk is transferred from the bulk tank through stainless steel pipes to the pasteurizer in the cheese make room or “cheeserie.”
The pipeline system is cleaned automatically after milking using a "clean in place" or CIP system. Warm water flushes the milk out of the lines, followed by a hot water detergent rinse and then a mild acid rinse. The milk lines are sanitized just prior to each milking. We can now milk 70 does in about one hour! It used to take us close to 2 hours to milk 30 does using a twp-goat bucket milking machine. In this case, progress has been a great thing!