Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Milk Handling

I have had a couple of questions about my milk recently. I am licensed to sell fresh "raw" milk in Georgia "for pet consumption". This is the only way it is legal to sell unpasteurized milk in the state of Georgia.
Here are the steps I take to insure that my milk is of the highest quality.

Each morning, I pack up my basket of paper towels, udder wash, teat dip, and milking pail and trudge up to the barn. Rain or shine. I am cheerfully greeted by my hungry and uncomfortably large ladies.

I invite a goat to hop up on the milking stand where I put her head in a stanchion and give her breakfast. My girls are given free choice grass hay, pasture, and minerals. On the stand, they are given a small amount of goat feed, black oil sunflower seeds, and a non-GMO fermented alfalfa called Chaffehay. I have been able to reduce the grain they receive on the stand by half this year by sprouting trays of wheatgrass fodder to feed them each day.

Once she has her breakfast, I wash that big, beautiful udder with clean paper towels and a solution of water, Clorox, and Dawn dish detergent. Then I squeeze out a bit from each teat before I start the actual milking.

This year, I invested in a milking machine. It is a closed system. The sealed pail is placed under the doe on the milking stand. I attach the inflations to her teats and milking begins. When milk flow stops, I remove the inflations and dip the teats to prevent mastitis. It takes me about 30 minutes to milk all the girls.

When I'm done milking, I haul my pails back down to the house where I strain all the milk through filters designed specifically for this purpose. One of these white filter pads fits down in the stainless contraption pictured above and the whole thing fits snuggly on a clean wide-mouth jar. This filters out any small bits of hay or hair that may have slipped through.

The jars get put in the freezer for about 90 minutes to cool them down as quickly as possible. When the timer goes off, they get transferred to the fridge. We won't talk about how many times I've broken jars by letting milk freeze in them. Ugh!

All of my equipment is then washed and sterilized with a cleaner made just for milking equipment.

I also do routine CMT (California Mastitis Test) tests on my milk to make sure that there is no infection I'm not seeing. I have only had one case of mastitis here and it was on a doe I am convinced had it when I bought her. I had her at Auburn U. two days after I brought her home.

With my small herd of goats, I know every last little thing that's going on with them, from a fluctuation in weight, to a sniffle. I strive to produce the cleanest, most delicious and healthful milk I can.


  1. Your really sanitary! I take out a warm rag with a little dish soap squirted on it, some paper towels to dry, followed by a shot of freezy stuff to prevent mastitis.
    One of my does teats is bigger than the other. The last time I milked her (months ago) she was cranky and I was cold so I didn't finish emptying one all the way. I hope that doesn't cause problems :/
    14 more days......I'm starting to get nervous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I think it is great that you can sell raw milk.
    In Michigan I know people have to do milk shares to sell their milk.
    Great system you have set up :)

  3. Love your milk!! My pets couldn't do without it!! :p

  4. I didn't realize you were a Georgian. I shouldn't be surprised though, lots of the people who live in my county have goats too.