When we thought about getting milk goats one of the prime considerations was providing comfortable and convenient milking facilities. Two great things about goats is that they fit in small spaces and are relatively clean. I have yet to have a goat poop or pee on the milk stand. I won't mention the very occasional pellet trail coming in or going out. Anyway, because our goat barns are very close to the house, we decided to set up our milking room along one wall of our utility room, sort of sandwiched between our water heater and back door. It met all the requirements of being only about 30 feet from one of our doe barns, it has hot and cold water, it is dry, it has a floor drain and most importantly for winter milking, it has HEAT. Because it meets all my requirements, milking is more a pleasant experience than a chore (unless you've been building fences or weed eating all day) which is important for something that you do twice a day, everyday, for most of the year.
Because goats are such creatures of habit and they love food, it is fairly simple to train them to come to the milk stand. After a week or two they learn their milking order and happily leave the barn and run up and jump up on the stand for their grain ration.
I built a simple wooden stand located over a floor drain that would accommodate my milking machine milk hoses. Because we have short goats, the pail needs to be under the stand with only the lines sticking up through the floor of the stand. I made a keyhole-style head piece which I will probably modify this winter to accommodate the taller goats that I have acquired.
Because I do milk several goats, I decided to invest in a milking machine which makes milking 5 or 6 goats twice a day go much faster, at least for me with hands that are getting older by the day. It also makes it much easier on Leslie who graciously farms sits for us when we go out of town. The machine is a simple vacuum pump with an air tank and a pulsating valve.
Air lines connect from the air tank to a milk bucket. There are many styles of buckets but I use a small 6 quart stainless "belly pail" for my little goats. It is light weight, stainless steel and because it has short milk hoses it is easy to clean.
When hand milking, the upper part of the teat is closed off using the thumb and forefinger and the milk inside the teat is squeezed out. A milking machine uses an on-off vacuum to draw milk from the teat. The part that attached to the goat is referred to as the inflations or teat cup. They consist of an outer shell made of hard plastic or stainless steel and an inner silicone liner. A constant vacuum is applied to the silicone liner and about once per second air at atmospheric pressure is introduced into the space between the hard outer shell and the soft liner. During the vacuum or milking phase, milk flows from the teat because the pressure in the udder is greater than the partial vacuum applied to the teat. During the rest, or atmospheric phase, air at atmospheric pressure enters the space between the outer shell and the inner liner causing the inner liner to collapse around the teat. The pressure of the collapsed inflation helps massage the teat and prevents swelling and congestion. The entire sequence is designed to mimic the action of a nursing kid.
The following video shows the action of the milking machine.