Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Got Goat Milk? September 30, 2009

Filed under: Home Economics,Real Food Wednesday — realfoodmama @ 11:25 am
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We’ve had our dairy goats for not quite a week now and as you may have noticed, it has completely messed up my schedule! I haven’t had time to write since they arrived and my morning routine with the little man has been completely undone, resulting in a fair number of tantrums and general clinginess.

Regardless, I am happily milking my goat twice a day and I am consuming the milk almost as quickly as I can milk her – mostly because a) my hands cramp up before I can fully empty her and b) she kicks over about 30% of the milk I get out of her. I end up with about 1/2 quart a day total which suffices for my tea and for my son’s cup of milk.

It should also be noted that the rest of the household is having a hard time drinking the milk knowing that it came from the goat out in the yard. As my boyfriend said, “I can’t shake the image of it coming from an udder.” This makes the small supply we have been getting more than sufficient.

All that aside, the experience of having goats and milking them has thus far been fabulous. I was forced to ask a friend to come out and show me the ropes initially, but after her demonstration it has been relatively smooth sailing since. I have learned a few things of huge import in the last week that I wanted to share in the event anyone else out there is considering getting goats for their home milk supply.

Get a milking stand

Regardless of what you may think, it is better for everyone if you have a sturdy milking stand with a nice locking stock. This makes both the goat and the milker happier. All attempts at milking prior to the completion of the milking stand were disastrous. It should also be noted that you must separate the milking goat from your other goats, otherwise you will have to continuously fight off the other goats. This is nearly impossible if you only have four limbs.

Be prepared to lose most of your milk at the beginning

Unless you have an incredibly patient goat and freakishly strong hands, you should be prepared to a) not be able to aim into the milk pail, resulting in milk all over you and the goat and b) have a bored goat. A bored goat will want you to be done and will encourage you to finish by stepping in the pail and possibly even kicking in an attempt to get off the milk stand.

The first few times I milked my goat it took me upwards of 30 minutes. This morning the whole process took me less than 10. You will get faster, but chances are your goat will not get more patient, so try to keep things nice between the two of you

Never use plastic

Always store your milk in glass or stainless steel. Canning jars work beautifully and add an element of homeyness to the presentation. Goat milking supplies can be found here:

Cool your milk immediately!

You don’t need an industrial freezer to do this. The easiest way is to take several freezer packs and place them in a stainless steel bowl or tub filled with cold water. Place your milk container in this tub and put in in the fridge. It will reach the 38 degrees it needs to quite quickly with this method and you will avoid actually freezing the milk which can have deleterious effects on its nutrition.

Be tenacious

Goats need to be milked, and you are the one to do it. A goat will dry up if not milked regularly and may even develop mastitis, an infection of the udder, which can become very dangerous. Regardless of kicking and hand cramping, keep milking! Your efforts will be rewarded and you will love it.

Some other hints:

Raw goats milk tastes almost exactly like cows milk. It is through the pasteurization or heating of the milk that it develops the distinct tang many people associate with goat milk. Raw goat milk will start to become goaty if kept around for longer than a week. When making cheese you should use the older milk. You might also notice a distinct spice to goat milk depending on what the goat has been eating. For example, my friend’s milk tastes slightly of lavender because she grows it in her yard near the goats.

This post has been my contribution to Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday.