Here I am, ready to milk my Nigerian Dwarf goats this morning. I’ve been raising goats for 12 years and milking them the last 10 of those years. I started using the hand-held Udderly EZ Milker back in 2006. I love it! I have arthritis in my elbows that is exacerbated by milking tiny Nigerian teats. Without the EZ Milker, I’m not sure how I would have ever been able to provide milk for my family. I’ve done well enough working as Editor Melinda to have a bit of extra cash to spend on myself. And, what else does a lady farmer splurge on but an electric milker! This is a picture of my Ultimate EZ Milker, which I bought a year ago. I’ve been using it daily and am very happy with it. Last year, I milked 4 does. This year, I’m milking 7 does, which takes about a half hour. Most of that time is spent in moving does in and out of the milking area for their turn on the milk stand, as everyone wants to come in, but no one wants to leave.
My next splurge will be on the EZ Solar Solution. But first, let me show you how easy it is to use the Ultimate EZ Milker.
Did you notice the wonderful canvas bag in the picture above? I recently saw a post on one of the Facebook groups for Nigerian breeders that asked how folks got their milking systems to the barn each morning. I saw pictures of wagons, carts, and such. Goodness sakes, that would be overkill for a handful of Nigerians. If we were blessed with living on flat land, I might be able to swing something like that. But, we live on a hillside, so I have to navigate two sets of stairs between the house and barn. I am very grateful for the handy canvas bag for my Ultimate EZ Milker. I just loop the handles over one arm and carry my little stainless-steel bucket full of collection bottles in the other hand. It’s easy as pie and very lightweight (which is a huge blessing as I am in the most pain early in the morning).
Here is 9-year old Goat Mountain View Limerick being milked using the Ultimate EZ Milker. Buck’s video is a great resource in explaining how to set up the milker, but it’s a very simple procedure. Just pop your silicone insert into the plastic extractor tube, then screw the tube onto a bottle. Now, push the end of a hose onto the extractor tube. Close the plastic clip on one of the hoses by squeezing it. This allows you to have just one tube operating when you hook up the first teat.
Wash the teats on your doe. I also massage her udder a bit to help her drop her milk, and then I express the first squirt of milk by hand onto the ground to ensure I clear any bacteria from the teat. Turn on the power on the side of the Ultimate EZ Milker. Look at the pressure gauge to make sure the pressure is at 11 psi (I actually set mine to 10, and it works fine).
You are ready to go. Simply place the top of the extractor tube over the teat. The vacuum will pull it snugly against the teat and hold it in place. Now that you have the first bottle set up, open the white plastic clip on the other hose and put it on the other teat.
You can see that Limerick is very relaxed. The Ultimate EZ Milker is very gentle and makes little noise. It only takes a minute to fill the bottles, so I had to snap the photos quickly! The Ultimate EZ fills those bottles so fast that even my “Hoover” cannot finish her grain before she is done being milked.
In this instance, I am using the small collection bottles as I will pop a lambar nipple on top for feeding baby goats. When I am collecting milk for my own family, I will usually use a set of 18-oz bottles. The bottles come with a white plastic lid that screws on top so you can store the milk in the refrigerator. During hot weather, an alternative is to pour the milk from the collection bottles into a large mason jar that you place in your stainless-steel milk bucket filled with ice.
I have seen posts on Facebook where uniformed folks spread misinformation, such as this type of milker not being gentle on the goats’ teats. That has certainly not been the case on my farm in the past decade. It concerns me what kind of psi users are cranking up to cause such issues. There is a very visible mark on the psi gauge to not exceed 11 psi for goats. On the hand-held Udderly EZ Milker, you only need to pump until the milk flows. Use the smallest collection bottle available that will hold the amount of milk produced from your goat, and you will have faster milk collection that doesn’t need much suction.
Here are Limerick’s teats after being milked with the Ultimate EZ Milker. Tell me, do those look sore or damaged? Nope. I’ve been milking Limerick with either the Udderly EZ Milker or the Ultimate EZ Milker for 9 years. She’s never had a case of mastitis. (Limerick is a gold doe with spots, so those are freckles, not injuries.)
Another option is to just milk one teat at a time. Buck Wheeler told me that Mary Jane Butters does this so she has more time to relax in the barn. I absolutely understand! Milking is one of my few moments of downtime during the day as I work as a copyeditor, teach homeschool, run the farm, handcraft goats milk soap, and also do all the other normal things a housewife/mom does during the day.
I do find that milking one teat at a time is a good way to start with first fresheners, who often choose to “dance” on the milk stand until they get used to their milking routine. I will hold the leg closest to the teat being milked still with one hand while I hold the collection bottle with the other. There is no need for hobbling. Because the milker uses gentle, constant suction, really the only strange feeling they have is the initial placement of the top of the silicone insert against their teat. After that is done, they usually will forget about being milked and concentrate on their grain. As they hold still, I will slowly move my hand from their leg to their back to pet them as a reward for standing still. If they start to move around again, often all that is needed is a some gentle pressure over their hips to remind them to stay still. If that doesn’t work, all is not lost as I still am holding the bottle up against her teat. There is no milk pail to get kicked over. And, because the constant suction holds the bottle snugly, no debris like hair or dust gets into the bottle while your young doe does her dance.
Here is Goat Mountain View Hailey showing you how easy it is to be milked with just one bottle at a time. (Just remember to close the white plastic clip on the unused hose to cut off its suction. That way, you will get a better seal on the one bottle being used.)
I’ve heard folks wonder if they can fit the bottles under Nigerian Dwarf goats. Hailey is only 18.75″ tall, yet both the 18-oz and quart bottles work flawlessly with her. They don’t need to stand straight up and down, as you can see the bottle is angled in the picture. And, in the following picture, you can see the bottle is working fine even when she is squatting. She squats when her kids nurse on her as well. I guess that shows you that being milked by the Ultimate EZ Milker is no different to Hailey than nursing her own kids. She certainly is very comfortable and content.
OK, I’m done milking Hailey now. I like to spray the teats with disinfectant after I’m done milking to prevent mastitis. It’s also a good idea to give the does their hay after they are milked so they stand up for a while. This helps to ensure the teat orifice is closed before they lie down.
I disconnect the hoses from the extractor tubes by pulling gently on the end. I place my bottle of milk into my carry bucket. Then, I unplug the unit and place it, hoses and all, back into the carry bag. Ah, yes! You don’t need to wash the hoses. No milk flows through them (unless you accidentally overfill the bottle because you weren’t paying attention. There is an overflow canister provided to prevent damage to the milker in case this happens). Do you know that there are folks who use other brands of milking machines that have to go through a tedious and tiresome task twice each day of scrubbing and sanitizing milker hoses? From what I hear, they have to run soapy water through the hoses, then scrub them out with a long, skinny brush, rinse out the hoses, and then finally run sanitizer solution through the hoses. Then, they have to find someplace to hang the hoses to dry. Wow, I don’t have the time nor energy for that!
Here are the bottles of milk, using the same bottles that the milk was collected in, ready to take out to feed the baby goats. I just pop a lambar nipple (available for purchase along with your milker) on top of the collection bottle. The bottle on the far right is a different bottle with a Pritchard nipple. For newborn Nigerians, this is a good setup for transitioning them from their mom to the bottle, as they are so tiny. After about a week or two though, they figure out the larger lambar nipples without a problem. Folks who have standard-size goats or lambs don’t need to worry about starting with a tiny nipple.
The babies certainly enjoyed their bottles! Now, it’s time to clean up. In my opinion, the following picture portrays one of the finest qualities of the Ultimate EZ Milker.
Here is what I just washed after my morning milking and kid feeding. Yeah, seriously…that’s it! (The funnel and spoon are for adding a bit of yogurt to each bottle.) I just wash everything in my kitchen sink in hot, soapy water along with our breakfast dishes. I feel sorry for the folks who have to have a dedicated utility sink for washing out collection jugs, claws, and milk lines. I can see that if you have a large herd of dairy goats. But, for a handful of Nigerians, this is all that is really needed. And, you will only pay a quarter of the price of a competitor’s milking system.
So really, isn’t it time to splurge a bit on yourself?Melinda Weer (AKA Editor Melinda) Goat Mountain View Farm Poulsbo, WA