Skills Learned Through WWOOFing: Milking Goats

Listen to this post:
Subscribe to these audio posts using iTunes or RSS • Download Audio

Over twenty five years ago Mike and I exchanged wedding vows:

  • For richer or poorer.
  • In sickness and in health.
  • Hiking mountains or milking goats.

Wait, what?

Milking goats?

Goats and Not Goats

We arrived at our latest wwoofing gig a week ago. We are working at a goat farm in Northern Florida.

It’s a farm that primarily focuses on:

  • Chickens
  • Cows
  • Horses
  • Dogs
  • Cats

But the stars of this farm-show are the goats.

The farm is known for its goat milk, goat cheeses, and goat yogurt (all labeled and sold for animal consumption only, per FL law). It also sells goat milk soaps, goat milk lotions, and other goat milk products.

Inside or Out?

The WWOOFers are separated into “outside” and “inside” crews each week. Miranda started her week with the outside team. She’s written about her experiences so far.

I was assigned to the inside team. This crew is responsible for milking goats, making yogurt and cheeses, cleaning and separating eggs, making and packaging soaps, and more.

Since the products sold by the farm revolve around goat milk, I’ll walk you through that process.

Line Em Up!

The milking goats are lined up at the gate by 7:00am.

eBook: Homeschool Legally While You Travel the USA

eBook: Homeschool Legally While You Travel the USA Worried about homeschooling legally while you travel?

The HSLDA says to "follow the laws of any state you are in for more than 30 days". But what do the states say?

We contacted all 50 states, asked them how to homeschool legally while traveling there, and compiled their responses into this 45 page eBook.

We can milk 8 goats each session. We allow 8 goats through the first gate.

Brush Them Down

Here we brush them, getting all of the dirt and debris off their coats.

When the goats are all brushed they are released down a fenced “chute” leading into the dairy barn.

To Your Stations!

Once inside, the goats pick a milking station. That may sound simple, but some days…not so much.

You know how it can throw off a church or school room if you “take somone’s seat?” This morning Koala chose a different station than usual. The rest of the goats had to meander around for a bit before finding new spots.

Feeding Time

The goats are anxious to get set up at a milking station because they know food is coming.

We feed them a scoop of grain, alfalfa, and manna. While two of us feed the goats, another crew member sprays the goats’ udders and teats.

When everyone is munching away, we wipe the udders and teats to make sure they are clean.

Now…Strip!?

The next step is called “stripping.” We use a metal cup and milk the first bits of milk from each goat. This is to remove any bacteria or calcium plugs that may be in the teat.

After the stripping, we turn on the milk machine. It can handle 4 goats at a time. Some of these girls can produce 1/2 - 1 gallon of milk each morning - so the machine makes easy work of what would take a long time to do by hand.

When the machine has extracted most of the milk, we remove the milking cluster and finish the process by hand milking.

Empty Goat?

When we finish milking a goat, her teats are dipped in a solution to help keep them healthy.

We then move the machine to the other side of the room and start the process over on the goats remaining in this batch.

Process the Milk

When this batch of goats is milked, a WWOOFer takes the milk canisters into the dairy kitchen and processes the collected milk.

We release the goats and they meander back to their pen.

With the dairy now empty we wipe down the milking stations.

Once Again, With Feeling

Once the empty canisters are back in the milking machine, we move the next batch of goats into the brushing area and repeat the process.

Once we’ve milked the second batch of goats and send them back outdoors, we clean the milking area again. We wipe down each station, sweep the floors, and generally get things ready for the next day.

Isn't Jilly pretty?

Isn't Jilly pretty?

First batch of milking recruits.

First batch of milking recruits.

Brushing time for the goats.

Brushing time for the goats.

Bribing, um, feeding the goats.

Bribing, um, feeding the goats.

Cleaning an udder and teats.

Cleaning an udder and teats.

Teamwork.

Teamwork.

Stripping a goat (removing the first bit of milk).

Stripping a goat (removing the first bit of milk).

Letting the milk-machine do its work.

Letting the milk-machine do its work.

Hand milking to finish the process.

Hand milking to finish the process.

Hand-washing for the 467th time today.

Hand-washing for the 467th time today.

This goat has two holes in each teat! Yes, she's a good milker.

This goat has two holes in each teat! Yes, she's a good milker.

Cleaning the milking machine.

Cleaning the milking machine.

Cleaning the milking machine.

Cleaning the milking machine.

How Am I Doing?

My first day of wiping an udder and teats stretched me a bit. No gloves. Just cleaning wipes that are used to first clean the udder thoroughly and secondly to clean the teats.

How gently do you handle a goat teat?  That’s been the question I’ve been trying to answer for myself all week.

My first attempts at hand milking were bad. I’m getting better with a few days experience. I even got some compliments yesterday! Of course, my goats generally have a small puddle of milk underneath them after I’ve hand milked.

Clean the Machine

When we are finished with all of the milking I clean the milking machine. It’s a detailed process to sanitize the parts so they are ready for the next day.

Susan has trained me this week - but yesterday was her day off. I attempted to clean the machine alone. I managed to get it clean, but not without struggling. I was grateful Susan was back to walk me through the process again. It went much better with her help.

Final Thoughts

I have a nursing degree and worked as a nurse for a time (way back before we had our own kids). It’s not a hospital environment but I’m impressed with how clean the milking process is.

We wash our hands between each step - so it’s a good thing the farm also produces lotion. It keeps my hands from getting chapped.

Milking goats may not have specifically been in our wedding vows, but I can still file it under “richer” and “better”.

Have You?

Have you milked a goat, cow or other animal? Let me know how it went for you.





Other Goat Farm experiences

Curious About the Costs?

Join our newsletter and get our budget numbers.A family of 3. Traveling fulltime in an RV. What's that cost? Join our weekly newsletter and we'll show you our 2016 budget.


No spam ever, pinky-promise.

1 Comment Skills Learned Through WWOOFing: Milking Goats

  1. Picture of Rosie LeizrowiceRosie LeizrowiceNovember 14, 2016

    Looks like fun! Those goats are so cute :)

Leave a Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *