Milking Goats: Natural Care

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Kidding season is almost here! We have three girls due beginning-middle April. This year will be our second season kidding and milking. I miss the anticipation of kidding. I miss the smell of fresh goat kids (they smell like vanilla milk). But most of all, I miss milking! It’s my favorite “chore” around the farm. I also miss opening up the fridge to see a shelf full of fresh milk. But mostly, milking is the shiz. I put in my headphones, listen to a podcast or audiobook and head out to the barn to see my girls patiently waiting for me. One by one, they walk up to the milk stand and I get to spend lots of personal one-on-one time with each of my girls. My cold hands on their warm udders, the sound of their breathing and ruminating bellies next to my cheek. Then marching out of the barn with a pail full of liquid gold. It’s like carrying a trophy back into the house every morning. I am the milk maid victor!! But there’s a lot more that goes into milking. Cleanliness, feed control, blah blah blah that you don’t always hear about when you’re getting ready for milking for the first time. So today, I’m going to fill you in on my all natural milking supplies that I use for my girls. First of all, I like raising my goats as naturally as possible. Meaning, I give them herbal dewormers and tinctures when they need medicine as a preventative and treatment. If those don’t work or something serious happens, I go ahead and use regular medicine. When they’re in milk and I’m milking them, everything that happens from start to finish is all natural as possible. After all, you are what your milk… consumes. That doesn’t really apply. But when milking, I like to use as few chemicals as possible to ensure the best possible, farm fresh, most delicious, all natural goat’s milk as possible. So let’s start from the beginning.

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Part One: The Grain Their grain ration on the milk stand is hand mixed by me. It’s pretty simple: it’s just black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS), alfalfa pellets and molasses rolled oats. There’s lots of other mixes out there, but this is what we use and they love it! The fat and oils from the BOSS is great for their coat and skin, alfalfa provides great calcium for kid development while gestating and also for milk production. And the rolled oats is nice and sweet, plus great protein! photo

Part Two: Herbal Supplements This is where it gets fun and creative and complicated. I have herbal preventatives for cocci and de-worming that I blend from bulk herbs. I usually sprinkle it on top of their grain portion and they eat it up. Afterwords, their goat kisses smell like Christmas cookies! I also have a basic Omega Fields Kid and Goat Care that I also started adding since last fall. So far, it’s been working great! This season I’ll be trying Molly’s Herbal Mo’ Milk Supplement when the does are in milk. In addition to all of those, I also make tinctures and salves for other needs. But the above is what I generally give for pregnant does and does in milk.

 

Part Three: All Natural Milking Supplies

So you have your girl up on the milk stand, mouth full of tasty grain and healthy supplements. Time to get to work. Before I start milking, I clean her udders, teats and my hands with unscented baby wipes. I stock up on them at the dollar store throughout the year. And yes, even though they’re not all natural, it’s a great simple and cheap way to clean them up before milking. Then, I milk and milk and milk. When I’m done, I rub on a homemade udder balm and spray their teats with a homemade teat spray. The udder balm is a simple combination of 1 cup coconut oil, 30 drops of peppermint essential oil and 30 drops of tea tree oil. The coconut oil keeps the udder and teats nice and soft and prevents chaffing. Peppermint oil helps blood circulation and has antiseptic properties. The tea tree oil is antiviral and antibacterial. So not only does this udder cream not have any harmful chemicals in it, but it also conditions and benefits your goat’s udder and teats.

My homemade teat spray consists of 15-20 drops of grapefruit seed extract, 15-20 drops tea tree oil, 2 tablespoons castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s) and 12 oz. water. Mix it all together in a spray bottle and shake bottle before each use. The castile soap is an all natural cleanser, the tea tree and grapefruit seed extract are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. All together, it makes a very natural and gentle cleanser for the teats. So far, I haven’t had any problems with odd flavored milk or any mastitis by using my own spray and cream. Extra bonus, using the homemade udder cream makes your skin feel soft and smell really good too!

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With these natural milking supplies, you can feel good about your goat’s health and your fresh milk! No chemicals, no additives, just healthy from the inside out.


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