Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chapter Eight Hundred and Fifty-Seven in the Great Goat Milk Challenge

Poppy - head bucketed and udder spritzed

Undeterred (hey, we are talking human vs goat – surely we know who should win this battle of wits?), I went to the pet store to procure something nasty-tasting to spritz on Poppy’s udder and teats. Turns out there are a number of products that are guaranteed to stop unwanted licking. The Vet’s Best Bitter Cherry spray seemed to be a good bet – herbal, non-toxic, and recommended for use directly on incisions, etc., I coughed up my $12.99 and headed home to the goat pen. Poppy, still with her bucket on her head, waited for me, her strange slanty eyes glinting with excitement at the prospect of the next round in the battle for control over her nether regions.

After the afternoon milking, I spritzed her thoroughly (to her chagrin) and let her go. That night, another bonanza milking – 1.5 liters! A record! Finally – a solution – the combination of bucket and spray seemed to have done the trick. The next morning, another respectable liter and then – the afternoon milk. A few measly drops. Apparently, if a goat drinks enough milk, it washes away the taste of the Vet’s Best Bitter Apple. It occurred to me that it might not actually taste as bad as advertised on the bottle, so I made the foolish mistake of testing the substance by spraying a bit on the back of my hand having a lick. Rest assured, it DOES taste as bad as advertised on the bottle. Spitting in the dirt and repeatedly wiping my tongue on my sleeve did nothing to get rid of the evil, gag-inducing taste of the spray. And persistent? Definitely, yes. I had to race up to the house to flush my mouth before, finally, the nastiness abated sufficiently so I could finish my chores. Poppy watched my retching and fleeing with amusement, no doubt thinking, “A glass of milk would do wonders make you feel better.”

Said bucketed, spritzed, and grumpy goat continues to be completely inconsistent in terms of her self-sucking habits. Sometimes we get a decent amount of milk, sometimes virtually none. I have been reading about collars with spikes that face backwards, poking the goat when she tries to reach back, inflatable Elizabethan collars, and slightly different designs of neck-turning-restriction devices (same basic idea as the ice cream pail but a bit snugger).

There are those that say the best place for a self-milker is in the stew pot. This seems a tad harsh. I am determined to persist until a solution is found.


  1. I found you post interesting as my pet ND is a self milker and I am going thru the same thing with nasty tasting sprays...she doesn't seem to mind if she drinks enough of her own milk

    1. A very frustrating problem, as it turns out! After experimenting with a series of collars, we purchased an udder sling, which worked for a few days until she figured out she could undo the buckles by scraping along the fence... Duct tape solved that, more or less, but then she figured out how to pull her teats over the front lip of the mesh fabric that holds the udder. I retrofitted a couple of extra straps, but she continues to snap straps, scrape off duct tape, and somehow get in there to help herself. At least the rate of loss has decreased! Meanwhile, we are ready to breed our Nigerian Dwarf cross and, with any luck, that might allow us to shift gears entirely and not have to rely on Poppy as our sole milk supplier! Best of luck with yours!