#1 Separate the Kids at Night
I got my best results when I separated my goats from their kids at night so I can steal the morning milk. The kids will then keep the mom empty during the day and production stays up. It also matches their sleep cycle so other than the kid getting a full dose in the morning, it is as close to natural as I can get.
#2 Stick to a Routine
The most important thing I learned from the first round of milking is stick to a routine. Any changes and you will see the production drop. For example, this doe I bought and left her kids with the breeder. A new home and the lack of her kids cut her volume in half. The other doe had her buck and when I switched to morning milking only this one dropped to almost nothing. I took the other does buck away when he hit 3 months and went back to twice a day but that was pointless so I went to morning again. I was done milking after only a few months when it should have went for several.
BOTTOM LINE - Production only goes down from birth but you can hold it steady for awhile by sticking to a routine and keeping a kid with them during the day
#3 Strip the Doe Completely Every Time
You can't get every drop out but you can get dang close. This keeps production up because the doe's body will adjust to the demand.
#4 There are Two Teat Wipes/Dips Needed
I never got the dreaded Mastitis thank god but lets just say it wasn't due to my knowledge. Once you get does in milk you are basically under the gun and all your research and reading is out the window. It's literally go time. I had no milking stand and had never milked an animal and all I had for teat care was bag balm. Other than watching the little kid make funny faces and smack his lips after trying to nurse, it is useless for preventing infection. It is only for chapped or dry teats. The vet really helped me by looking at what I had on hand and telling my what I needed. The first thing I bought was teat wipes that come in a giant baby wipe canister. This is a pre-milking wipe and is used to kill bacteria that my be lurking outside the orifice. The second is Fight bac get it "bac" as in bacteria, nevermind moving on, and is used as a post-milking sort of a orifice sealer. The more you strip an animal, the more open the orifice is and the more likely to get infected. I guess I could use iodine wound spray as a pre and bag balm as a post in a pinch but I wouldn't recommend it. Mastitis can be serious for the animal and apparently its disgusting to see in the milk.
When they kid this time:
- I will milk in the morning only, and at 7:00 on the dot
- I will separate the kid(s) at night starting at 2 weeks old
- I will keep at least 1 kid with the mother until she naturally weans which should be about 7 months
- If the doe has only bucks or one buck then I will wether it and butcher when she is done milking and sell any extra bucks
Milking Process (since I had no cameraman)
- Prepare yourself: Get your chair set, teat wipes/spray positioned, milking machine or container set, grain ready, and clear other goats so they won't jump on your stand or chair or eat the wipes or food for milker.
- Distract and load the goat: I use grain and put rocks in it and mix with hay for my herd queen. I also heard that classical music calms and it definitely does with my goats. I bought a goat hobble but only had to use it a few times. Don't give the grain yet but you can use it to tease the goat onto the stand.
- Prepare the teats: Use wipes or whatever you have for a pre milking cleaner. You rarely have to scrub but occasionally they will have mud or poop on their teats.
- Do the strip test: Squirt a strip of milk and if it looks like milk you are probably good. I've heard that if it looks like cottage cheese and smells like pus then it is mastitis. I bought little cards that are like a pregnancy test so you basically squirt milk on them and they change colors if bad. The best way I can describe milking is clamp the top and squirt milk out of the bottom. Think of a tube of toothpaste, if you just squeeze then milk will go back up in the udder. You need to seal the top of the teat reservoir with your thumb and index finger and don't pull done just roll your other fingers.
- Milk completely: You'll know you're done when the reservoir stops filling. I even go back and forth between teats a few times. When you're done you will know it.
- Post teat dip or spray: It takes about a half hour for the teat orifice to close so this is the time to ensure it is protected from bacteria
- Give your goat a treat if she was good or a firm talking to if she wasn't