The production of high-quality milk not only depends upon clean, healthy goats that have properly been fed and cared for but also a high-quality goat milking machine that results in clean, efficient milking while preventing injury and/or infection.
Here are three of the best.
3 Best Goat Milking Machines
Best Rechargeable Machine: Dansha Farms Rechargeable Goat Milking Machine
Rechargeable goat milkers aren’t for everyone, but if you don’t need anything bigger or more powerful, there isn’t anything better than the Dansha Farms Goat Milking Machine.
Made in the USA by a veteran dairy goat farmer, and coming with everything you need, it’s about the simplest machine out there.
Six rechargeable Ni-Cad AA batteries charge and power the milker. When ready, just press a button and milk will flow into the ½ gallon bottle. Rest assured that the process is very hygienic too due to the milker utilizing a sealed system with an airtight connection. All parts are also easy to clean.
One of the real selling points of buying a Dansha Farms machine is the company’s customer service. You receive customer service that you can only find from smaller companies in this day and age. There are several reports of the company shipping replacement parts for free, even if the user was at fault and after extensive use.
Best Pulsation Milker: Futt Electric Pulsation Milking Machine
Due to the Futt Milking Machine being a well-designed pulsation milker it has a few advantages over less powerful and lesser designed options.
For one, teats won’t be damaged which is one of the primary causes of mastitis issues. Goats will be faster to milk as pulsating machines manage to maintain a high rate of milk flow from the teat within each pulsation cycle. There will also be no pain which means no present or future discomfort and handling issues.
Despite the machine’s relatively low price, there aren’t any issues with the power of the pump. It has been smartly designed with exhaust holes to help with heat dissipation so that it can work for 24 hours continuously.
Silicone has been used in the milker’s design, which is important because it is easier on teats, non-toxic, tasteless, and easier to clean.
If you’re okay with a non-rechargeable, electric-powered goat milking machine this is the one to get.
Best for Simplicity & Ease of Use: Ultimate EZ Electric Milker
Made in the USA, the Ultimate EZ Electric Milker manages to combine the ease and simplicity of the hand milker with the speed of a pulsator machine.
Besides its speed one of the machine’s main strengths is just how gentle it is on goats (along with other animals). The vacuum and silicone inserts remain gentle even on engorged teats and nervous does. Attaching the milker to the teats is also a gentle process.
The cleaning process couldn’t be simpler, which isn’t always the case with pulsator machines, as it is easy to take apart with no tubes to flush out.
While the Ultimate EZ Electric Milker stands alone as a great milk machine for goats and sheep, backyard farmers with a cow or two will also appreciate it.
Important Features to Consider
While some of the following factors are not relevant depending on the type (and complexity) of the goat milking machine you are looking to buy, it is still a good idea to be aware of them.
There are electric, battery-powered, and gas goat milking machines to choose from. Regardless of which type of machine you choose, it’s important to see that the milk is quickly removed from the teat end. This is because milk cannot be forced back into the teat end.
Most small-time goat dairy farmers will be happy with an electric goat milking machine. These are perfect for small-medium-sized farms due to striking just the right balance between power and cost. They will get the job done just fine, but as electric goat milkers need a plug or outlet to function some planning ahead is necessary to see if it will be the right choice for you.
There are also battery-powered goat milkers to consider. While you do not have to worry about an electric power source, and these can be great if you only have a few goats to milk, there are a couple of downsides.
They aren’t as powerful, can take longer to milk, and running out of power midway through milking can be a frustrating experience.
Gas-powered goat milking machines are the most powerful and expensive units on the market. They are also the most expensive to maintain due to their complexity, and the continual need to purchase gas as their power source.
Gas-powered machines are probably overkill for dairy farmers with a small herd and/or with smaller breeds due to the suction power they can generate.
The most important aspect to consider when it comes to the pump is its capacity. Manufacturers state this in CFM (cubic ft./min). The right capacity for your needs depends on several factors, including the size and length of pulsating lines, number of units, type of pulsator, type of system (bucket or pipeline), and the requirements of other vacuum-operated equipment you may have.
Vacuum regulators are designed to prevent the vacuum level from going too high. It’s necessary for a regulator to have equal or greater capacity than the pump’s capacity.
Milking machines can involve a piping system that must be large enough to allow the unit to function correctly. An inadequate pipe size may result in teat and mammary gland injury.
If you’re buying a pulsator-type machine the pulsator ratio is something to look out for. This concerns the length of time the inflation is in milking position compared to its rest position. Look for a ratio between 50:50 and 70:30 (milk:rest).
You will typically come across parts having been made of rubber or silicone. Silicone is generally the preferred choice because it is longer lasting than rubber and easier on the teat ends. However, it is also more expensive.
Teat Cups & Inflation Size
Teat cups determine the inflation size. You wouldn’t want to use smaller inflations with large teated goats due to the discomfort this can cause, and vice versa. Therefore, large teated goats do better with larger inflations, and small teated goats do better with smaller inflations.
Number of Units
You may require just one goat milking machine or several more. This will depend on the number of goats to be milked, the skill of the operator, whether the goats are fast or slow to milk, and the type of system. A skilled operator should be able to handle 4-6 units.
How to Best Take Care of Goat Milking Machines
It may not be fun but regular checking and maintenance are essential to keep a machine in tip-top condition. While it’s best to read the instruction manual to specifically see what the manufacturer recommends, here are a few guidelines to follow daily, weekly, monthly, and annually.
Check the vacuum level
Check parts for breaks, tears, and cleanliness
Ensure pulsators are operating properly
Ensure the filters are clean
Check and clean the vacuum regulator and filter
Check regulator filters
Check for leaks by inspecting all gaskets, lines, and fittings
Check and clean the cooling system
Perform an extensive check of the milking system
Best Dairy Goat Breeds
Focusing on the USA, there are 9 dairy goat breeds that are available. These include Alpine, Saanen, Nubian, Nigerian Dwarf, Toggenburg, LaMancha, Sable, Guernsey, and Obehasli.
Which breed is best depends on several factors, including accessibility, budget, climate, milk purpose, and land size to name a few.
The Nubian, for example, is the most common dairy goat breed found in the USA, making it one of the best choices for its availability.
The Nigerian Dwarf goat, on the other hand, is perfect if you only have a small area of land to work with. It is a miniature breed but produces a lot of milk for its small size. The same applies to Guernsey goats.
The Saanen is called the “Queen of the Dairy Goats” for good reason. They can’t be beaten for their milk-producing capabilities but have also earned that nickname due to their large size, excellent temperament, and adaptability. Sables are derived from the Saanen breed and also produce well.
Alpines, which include the French and American Alpines, are very good milkers. They can continue to milk for 1-3 years compared to most other breeds that only milk productively for 9 months before starting to drop off.
LaManchas, which includes gopher and elf ear goats, are highly adaptable, and milk well, producing milk with a sweeter taste.
Toggenburgs are medium-sized that produce milk with a strong flavor. Oberhaslis have very high production milks but the milk has a low butterfat content.
How long does it take to milk a goat with a machine?
This depends on the doe itself, what size the teats are, the amount of milk, and perhaps most importantly your technique and how fast you are going to milk. A better-trained operator who milks two-handed will be more efficient, for example. The best goat milking machines can also get the job done faster.
With enough practice so it becomes second nature, milking a goat may take only a few minutes.
How much milk do goats give?
The exact amount varies by breed. As a guideline, you can expect a good dairy goat to provide between 6-12 pounds of milk a day for approximately a 300-day lactation.
How often should you milk a goat?
There isn’t necessarily a set answer to how often you should milk a goat. It depends on how much milk you want, how long it has been since your doe first freshened, and whether you are trying to stop production.
Just keep in mind that it’s never a good idea to suddenly stop milking if you want a doe to stop producing. This can cause extreme pain. It’s better to take steps to discourage her from producing milk – by decreasing the amount of grain in her diet, for example, and then start milking less frequently.
Is goat milk better than cow milk?
There’s two way of looking at this.
Firstly, if we’re looking from a business point of view there’s good reason to believe why milking goats may be the better option.
Goat milk is actually the most popular milk worldwide with the USA (and the Western world as a whole) being one of the few exceptions. However, dairy goat herds are growing at record speed in the USA as more consumers look for alternatives to cow milk for health and environmental reasons. Do not expect this to stop anytime soon – if anything, demand will continue to grow.
Goat milk is starting to become the preferred choice for health-conscious consumers for several reasons. It is less likely to cause digestive, respiratory, and dermatological issues. It is high in protein and calcium while being relatively low in carbohydrates and sodium. Important vitamins and minerals like vitamin A and D, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium are higher in goat milk. Goat milk is also alkaline, and it has been suggested that an alkaline diet is better for health and can prevent a number of diseases.
Does milking goats hurt them?
If milking machine equipment is used and cared for properly goats will not feel any pain when milked.
Good milking preparation is, therefore, important – clean dry teats and teat cup inflations. Also ensure that you do not handle goats roughly, during irregular times, and avoid over milking, as these can all cause stress and injury, and directly affect mastitis resistance and susceptibility.
What surface should goats be milked on?
Using wood or any other porous surface is a big no-no when it comes to milking goats. Steel, concrete or hard plastic are all recommended instead.
The milking area should also be separate from where the goats are housed and have a floor drain.