But, before we begin, It’s important that you understand the terms associated with the anatomy of the goats mammary system:
Udder- The intact mammary system of a goat. Goats only have ONE ‘udder’. “Udders” is an incorrect and confusing term. Cattle also only have one udder. A goats’ udder is comprised of two halves, each half has its own mammary duct aka teat. An udder on a cow however is divided into four parts called: Quarters. And each quarter also has a teat.
Teat(s)- A teat is the ‘nipple’ on a goat. Goats have two mammary ducts aka teats, one for each half of the udder while cattle have four (one for each quarter).
Orifice(s)- The opening of the duct in the teat that allows milk to pass out of the body of the animal.
Mastitis- An infection of the mammary system, affecting one or both halves of the udder. If left untreated, not treated for the full length of time recommended, not treated soon enough, or if the bacteria present has become resistant to the medication being used (usually due to not treating for the full recommended time) The bacteria may permanently damage/destroy the mammary tissue. In short, your dairy goat will no longer produce milk. Mastitis is caused by different types of bacteria, most common are those in the E.coli family.
*KEEP YOUR BEDDING/ ENCLOSURES CLEAN:
Keeping your shelters, barns, and paddocks clean will go leaps and bounds to help keep your Dairy goats from contracting mastitis. Goats have a tendency to urinate and defecate in their favorite sleeping spots and especially in their shelters. Urine soaked feces and bedding not only attracts flies, but is also hot beds for the growth of bacteria.
When your dairy goat goes to lay down, the weight of the animal can press on the udder causing the teat orifices to open; sometimes releasing the pressure of the milk. Open orifices, in contact with fecal debris, are the primary route of infection by harmful bacteria.
*ON THE MILK STAND:
Proper preparation and cleaning prior to and after milking is just as important as providing clean housing in order to prevent infection. Before you begin milking wash your hands. Then, using a soft clean cloth and warm water with a mild soap, wash the goats udder and teats. Be firm enough to wipe off any debris, and move in downward strokes over the teats to prevent the introduction of bacteria/dirt into the orifices.
*NEVER wipe upward, or rub the whole udder in a circular motion.
You may also use rubbing alcohol or commercially prepared disinfectants/ udder washes available at your local feed store/ on-line livestock warehouse.
After milking, the orifices remain open for some time. So again, using the prescribed method as above, re-wash the udder and teats to remove any milk, sweat, oil from your own hands. Then apply bag balm, or any other udder moisturizer/conditioning lotion to finish. It is important that as a dairy goat owner you take this extra step in your does’ care. Keeping the skin clean, and moisturized keeps your doe’s skin supple, and helps prevent painful chaffing.
*During Milking/ Drying-Off:
Milking your goat also provides ample opportunity for Mastitis to occur. During milking any residual oil/dirt harboring bacteria from either your hands or the animals own skin may in advertently be introduced into the teat orifices. So, it is very important that the milker takes care NOT to come into contact with the orifice of the teat, to help prevent the accidental infusion of bacteria.
Mastitis may also be caused by Damage to the mammary tissue by using improper milking technique. The most common mistake is allowing milk to flow back up into the mammary by either a) Not being sure to squeeze out all the milk in the duct/ teat. Or b) When attempting to milk, squeezing the duct so that the milk forcefully 'shoots' back up into the mammary; very common mistake made by beginners, but no less harmful!
Damage may also be caused by:
~'Bumping' the doe to hard, or too vigorously.
~PULLING down on the teat to extract milk rather than using the proper method that should be used when milking a goat that utilizes a technique to squeeze the milk out of the teat/mammary duct.
~Allowing large hoof stock to nurse directly from a goat rather than use a bottle.
~ Milk Congestion (during the drying-off process milk may 'congeal' and form blockages in the mammary tissue leading to inflammation, fluid build-up, & infection.)
~General Injury (any injury sustained either in the paddock, or pasture that was not obtained during the actual milking process.)
When you are first learning to milk a goat (or even if you are experienced) it is important to take your time. The animals may not wish to stand for you as you learn, so be sure to give them their breakfast/dinner on the stand while you are learning. Do not rush. Everyone makes mistakes, but mastitis is a mistake that can permanently put your doe out of commission. The health and safety of your animals should be the FOCUS of everything you do with your dairy goats in order to ensure you both will enjoy a long-lasting, productive, working relationship.
The YouTube Video that Started us Milking!
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