Milking My Nigerian Dwarf Goats

This video shows the variety of ways I milk my Nigerian Dwarf goats. That doesn’t mean you will do it my way, but it’s a guide to show those who are trying to figure it out some of the possible ways to milk such small goats. Much of my methods stem from breaking the fine bones in my hands during college and having arthritis early, making it difficult to grip the teats normally. I can milk a large breed just fine, but had to adapt my methods for my nigerian dwarfs. I hope this video helps the frustrated milker.

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About nigerianmeadows

I am a homeschooling mother of 2 autistic children and cook gluten-free, I homestead on 2.5 acre and raise goats and chickens for dairy and eggs, I garden, cook, quilt, and take photographs. I build, paint, scrub, and dance on tables. I am the ultimate WOMAN!!! Oh, yeah, and I like my husband a whole lot (he is the one that makes all this possible, and he loves me like no other!)
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27 Responses to Milking My Nigerian Dwarf Goats

  1. kismet says:

    Thanks so much! We are homesteading on about a half acre as well, and I am waiting for my first Nigerians to be born. This was very helpful!

    • Thank you kismet 🙂
      Good luck with your homestead! And the coming babies! I hope to see you back here to let us know when they are born 🙂
      If you “like” our farms facebook page, you can share pictures of your babies when they are born; I love fluffy pics!

  2. smwon says:

    Wow! I am not sure I could develop your technique for milking from above, but it sure seems to work better’n doing it from the side like I do!

    • It does work well. I milk normal with our alpine doe, but my hands simply can’t do that with the nigi’s. It’s a little harder on the back, but not too bad except when working with a first freshener.

  3. Suzanne says:

    Thank you! I’ve been struggling with the milking of our little goats! Can you share what and how much you feed them as they are being milked? I am always looking for ways I can improve.

    • Sure 🙂
      I feed Purina sweet feed, about 1 – 1 1/2 cups morning and night, and throw a 1/4 cup sunflower seeds on top. It changes depending on where they are in their lactation and how much they are producing. For the first 2-3 months I feed for production, meaning I give them the amount that should support what I think they should produce. In general, they get 1 cup grain no matter what, then 1 cup for every 2 pounds of milk they produce. I could feed more, but our hay is really good and they don’t need it to still produce. You sort of have to get the feel for your goats needs, though. Mostly, I feel the ribs for fat. They should be able to be felt by pressing slightly on them. You don’t want them standing out or being covered by too much fat. If I see either happening I adjust my feeding. I hope this helps some, but there are a lot of factors that go into goat nutrition.

  4. Rachel says:

    I’ve watched your video several times. We just got our Nigerians this past weekend (3 days ago) and so far milking is going terribly. I expected it to be rough, but this is beyond anything I expected. Our milker is a first freshener and really dislikes being milked. She sits down, lies down, kicks the bucket, etc. If she can try to prevent us from milking her she will do it.

    I was getting a good amount of milk from her the first couple days, but I think I was pulling down too much on her teat which could be part of the cause of her milking dislike. So this morning I tried to be very careful and only got a cup of milk in 30 minutes and most of that spilled b/c she kicked the bowl. Before then I was get 2+ cups at a time, most of which didn’t make it into the house since is spilled, but it is a wrestling match trying to get her into the milking area, onto the table and then to get her milked.

    I may try milking from above tonight, but our table is higher than yours and I may have to stand on the table to get it done. It may be worth a try though. To say I’m frustrated is an understatement, but I’m going to keep going. This has to get easier, right?

    • Wow, Rachel, you have quite a job ahead of you. First fresheners are bad enough for experienced milkers, but for both of you learning it will take a lot of time. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it, but you will have to just keep trying.

      My first 2 goats had never been milked, and I think they were also first fresheners. They did much like yours, which is when I decided to try milking from above. I just couldn’t control them! Many times I could be found covered in milk, sweat, and poopy foot-prints, sitting on the floor in tears before making myself get up and try it again. It took about a month to get me and the goats on the same page, but once I did things went well. Even now, with experience, I have a first freshener that, after 2 months, still tries to do me in on occasion 🙂 I affectionately refer to her as a “jack-ass” (donky version) and tell her to quit. She doesn’t listen well yet, but it’s getting better. When it’s rough, just remember you can succeed in time!

      Pulling on the teats will be a major kick factor, as will squeezing teats too far up. Maybe I will do a video tonight on common problems to try and help you. Even with perfect technique, though, first fresheners can be a pain, even ones with great milk-stand temperaments. If you are not pulling on the teat, make sure you are jostling the udder enough to make the doe let her milk down. Only about 30% of the milk is held in the teat/udder area, the rest is up in the goat and you have to bump her a bit to make her drop it down in the udder. One other tip; keep your hands on her udder no matter what she does. If she can make you let go or take them off her, she will try it over and over. You can also have someone take her food away every time she mis-behaves, and as soon as she stands still give it back to her. Goats will usually do almost anything for food! And make sure to give her hugs and scratches after you are done, or a treat, or brushing if she likes it to make her feel positive about the experience. She isn’t having any fun either right now.

      • Rachel says:

        Tonight was better. I really made sure I was calm and in no way pulled or pinched her udder or teat. I also made sure I didn’t remove my hand at all when she tried to sit down. She would try and I just kept my hand there and kept milking when possible. She would eventually calm down and continue eating.

        We got 2.5 cups tonight from her which made everyone happy. I’m sure we didn’t get everything, but the milk had really slowed down, we massaged her udder several times and were really getting only small amounts out. So I’m confident she was feeling better too, after not getting much this morning. She was really full when we started.

        Thank you so much for your video, it was very helpful. I didn’t end up milking her by leaning over her, but will try that next time she gets antsy on the stand. We were ready to take her food away and everything but it was never necessary. So I’m praying we’ve turned a corner with our little Hope. Thanks again.

  5. Cheyanne Gastelum says:

    I am a new milker with probably a new new milker;) I am experiencing many of the first timers, first fresheners frustrations but here is my question. Bella gets up on the stand no problem and will stand still while she is eating but as soon as she is done she starts kicking and pulling etc… She finishes about a little over a cup of grain in probably 5 min and that does not even leave me time to get the hang of the squeeze. Do you feed them the entire time or continue even when they finish? Also, she has really small teats so I may try standing over her next time. Thank you for the videos.

    • Boy, I remember those days. I still get frustrated at times with some of my girls, especially first fresheners!

      I try to train them to stay on the stand even when they are done eating. You can try leaving her on for a while even after you are done milking while you do basic things like fill water buckets and hay. That will help train her to stay put. You can even put her up there in the middle of the day and make her stand, giving her a treat at the end like a raisin or something. She is behaving quite normally I am afraid, and it takes time to train them different, especially when you are learning as well.

  6. Cheyanne Gastelum says:

    Good idea- We will work on that some. Thank you:)
    If you don’t mind, I thought of another question. She is nursing two babies who are 6 weeks, I have not separated them at all yet because I thought I might just try and sell them. In spite of that, her udder seems pretty small, is it because the babies don’t drink that much? Can I hope to get her milk production up? Or should I count on not getting much from her? She is kind of a rescue girl so no special history or breeding as far as I know. I know this may be hard to answer cause you are not here and don’t know all the details, but your information has been very helpful and I am sure you know something about these things- more than me!
    Thanks again,
    Cheyanne

    • There are a few reasons you could be getting such a small amount of milk. First, first-time does usually only produce a small amount of milk compared to the next years, usually about half in fact. This is not always the case, but in general will apply.

      Second, it could be feed related or genetics. Also, are you leaving the kids on all the time, or removing them for 12 hours before you milk? The kids will eat pretty much all they can when with mom, so you would not get much milk or know how big her udder really is. I know a lot of un-registered, run of the mill goats that can and do produce wonderfully! There are herbs you can give to increase milk production, sometimes a change in feed will help, and being on top of worming is also very important. Keep in mind that some herbs can decrease milk production, so research before using them.

      • Dean Hansen says:

        You mentioned being on top of worming. wont that effect the taste of the milk? Should I throw the milk out for awhile after worming, if so for how long?

        • If you use chemical dewormers, yes, there is a milk withdrawal time. However, I use herbs and there is no loss of milk with them. Length of time varies by chemical used, but on average it is 21 days. Back when we used them we would drink the milk after the 3rd. day, but it did worm the people in the family as well (not necessarily a bad thing except these dewormers are not sold to be used by humans). Do a quick internet search of the dewormer you are using and milk withdrawal time.

  7. Cheyanne Gastelum says:

    ok- that all makes sense. I am aware of ALL the herbs that can help increase milk- I have tried them myself:) lol
    I will give it some time then and see how things go- thanks again for your help.

  8. Cheyanne Gastelum says:

    If it is ok- I would like to ask you another question. I don’t really have anyone I can ask and your replies have been very helpful. So the journey continues. First of all, milking is going great! After the first 12 days of pure frustration, but not giving up, things have really settled down and I am thoroughly enjoying our little Bella and her milk.
    Here is the situation now. I sold the babies 6 days ago and have been milking am and pm every day. On average she has been giving 3cups am and 2 cups pm. I thought she might have been self-suckling so I taped her teats but that evening I still got 2 cups, so I think maybe not? Anyway, this morning I just got 2/12 cups and not a drop more. Is it usually for the production to decrease a bit after taking the babies away. Should I be content with 4 cups a day? (when it was 5). What about milking in the middle of the day to get it up? Just wondering what I should expect or strive for I guess. Thank you again,
    Cheyanne

    • I’m glad the milking has worked out!

      It is normal to get a little less in the evening, and after the kids are gone. When the kids go it tends to fall right about the time the doe will naturally drop in production a bit anyway. 8 weeks is peak, and they won’t hold that for long before gradually decreasing in production. Some of production depends on feed, but milking more times will help a little bit. If she is in heat production will drop for a few days and then go back up; you will see this about every 3 weeks. It’s not too bad an amount, although I prefer my milkers to produce at minimum 1 1/2 to 2 quarts every day through the main portion of lactation. However, we had a problem with worms this year and my best does are only doing a little over a quart a day at 3 months fresh, and never got the production I had from them in the past at any point this time. That was my fault, so I take it as my due.

    • I also want you to remember, if she is in fact a first freshener, this is a very respectable amount of milk. You should expect better the next time around, and for longer. She will be in her prime production around the 4th. freshening, and slightly decrease over her next ones.

  9. Cheyanne Gastelum says:

    That makes sense- also feed and worming is a consideration. She seems to have lost a little weight since I got her- but that doesn’t make sense because they were giving her only alfalfa and I am now giving her about 3-4 cups of grain as well as alfalfa all day and night and scraps from the kitchen. Is there something I should try to get her weight up? What about minerals?
    I guess I am hoping this is her first freshening 😉
    Thanks again!!!!

  10. Cheyanne Gastelum says:

    Ok- I have confirmed my suspicions, She is a self-suckler! Any advise? I have tried taping but it hurts when I pull it off her – really don’t want to keep that up, she will end up hating milking! When I saw her do it this time it was not just a snack, it was a meal! though I have to honestly say, I don’t think it makes a huge difference in how much I get- a difference of 1/2 cup maybe. So I am tempted to leave it, but I don’t want the bad habit. She eats alfalfa and grain and any left-over veggies/fruit she cares for. Thanks again!
    Cheyanne

    • I have not had to deal with that yet. It could be caused by her not getting what she needs from her food, so take a look at her diet. I would recommend a bitter, but non-toxic, oil/salve to put on her teats multiple times a day. I will check with some of my goat groups to see if there is a specific one that most goats hate. I wonder if fish oil would work? I doubt they would like that taste!

  11. Great video! I have two that I’m about to start milking in the next couple weeks! I’m also in NC and on 3/4 acres not far outside of Raleigh. I’ve milked full sized goats before but never small ones so this should be interesting 🙂

    • It’s neat to meet you! Are you east or west, north or south of Raleigh? I am east in Wilson County. I hope it goes well for you, they are different, but not that different 🙂

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  13. Corissa says:

    I just got a goat and her 6 week old kid last week. Honey is teeny. I don’t have any experience with goats this small. She only stands 18-20 inches and her teats are the size of the tip of my pinky from tip to first knuckle. I have tried several ways of milking her and only get a teaspoon or two out of her. What am I doing wrong?

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