When 87-year-old dairy goat enthusiast Dorothy Shaw, western New York, heard about a recent invention called the Udderly EZ Mare Milker, she was very interested in trying it on her goats.
Shaw, a former physical therapist who specialized in work with polio patients, loved her dairy goats dearly, but milking by hand was painful for her "polio rebound" affected hands. She was to the point of having to sell the goats because she just couldn’t go on milking them as was best for their udder health.
Dorothy Shaw can keep milking her goats, thanks to a new hand-held milker.
"I wondered if I could keep milking my goats. They are just a hobby, but I love them. My hands would get tired and little by little I changed the way I milked, without realizing it. The goats tend to give a little more milk as they mature, and during peak lactation it was hard for me to get them milked. I counted the strokes it took, because it was so painful. It would be 2,000 to 4,000 strokes with each hand, and that’s not good for your hands when you have post-polio syndrome. It was touch-and-go whether I could keep milking or not," she said.
By chance, Shaw discovered a new device originally created for milking mares and found it could make life easier for people who milk goats. The hand-held, trigger-operated pump, The Udderly EZ Milker was created by Buck Wheeler and is marketed by EZ Animal Products, LLC in Ellendale, Minnesota. It has a flange that fits snugly over the teat. A few pulls of the trigger creates a vacuum in the attached bottle, which quickly fills with milk.
When Shaw heard about the new mare milker, she wanted to try it on her goats. She contacted Wheeler and he made a few specified changes to the invention to make it more compatible for how Shaw wanted to use it…on her dairy goats.
"This milker revolutionized my life," Shaw said. "I use it every day, twice a day, on two goats. Buck (Wheeler) sent me a larger container to snap onto the pump, since the mare milker bottle only holds 16 ounces. I get a half-gallon per milking, twice a day, from each goat. But with this pump it doesn’t take a lot of squeezing; I squeeze the trigger maybe five times to create the necessary vacuum and then sit there and watch the milk flow. When the flow slows down to almost nothing, I squeeze it again. The bottle attached to the pump fills in a minute or two-much quicker than milking by hand-with just a few squeezes on the trigger."
Shaw said that she is supposed to wear splints on her hands because of a polio virus, called "polio rebound" which she contracted through her work. She lost part of the use of her thumbs, and has quite a bit of pain in both hands.
"The splints look a lot like the splints you see for carpal tunnel, except that these swing my thumb around to keep it in a certain position because the joint is destroying itself," she said.
The splints and the disability itself make milking goats a real problem for Shaw. Before discovering the Udderly EZ Milker, her options, if she wanted to keep her goats, included a plan to hire workers to come to her place and milk, for a fee, but she found that cost much more than she could afford. She wanted to continue to raise her dairy goats and she wanted to keep milking them herself.
The new Uddderly EZ Milker is available for under $200.
"I have a friend who sold her goats last year because her hands are so bad she could no longer milk. I told her to come over and watch me milk with this new device and to see how easy it is with the mare milker. If your hands are so weak you can’t squeeze the trigger with one hand, you can use two hands. I tried this, and it’s perfectly simple. You can give a couple of pushes with both hands on the trigger and then watch the milk flow into the bottle," she said.
"It’s a precision tool; each part fits perfectly so nothing falls out or goes wrong, and it’s easy to clean. It’s totally carefree. I have never been so enthusiastic about any aid in my life!" she said.
Shaw said she uses the services of four veterinarians in her area and has showed the milker to two of them and they are also very enthusiastic about it.
"The milker is easy on the udder, and the goats like it because milking is so comfortable and quick," she said.
"I have a mischievous, cantankerous goat that doesn’t like being milked and doesn’t like to be up on the milking stand, even though she’s fed up there. Now and then she does a dance up there, so I call her Bo Jangles. With the new device, she doesn’t even know she’s being milked!"
Shaw is sure many goat breeders will want to have one of these milkers once they find out about it. For dairy goat enthusiasts who want to keep and milk only one or two or a few goats, this invention is the most economical choice, she said.
"Any other type of milking machine for a sheep or goat dairy costs about $4,000 to be any good. You can get one for $2,000, but it may break down and you’ll wish you’d spent the $4,000. There’s a lot of difference between paying less than $200 (for this Udderly EZ Milker) and paying more than $2,000!," she said.
According to Shaw, the Udderly EZ Milker has different sized flanges for different sized teats, and a special size for goats; it is very comfortable on the udder and does not make the teats sore. There is no friction, just suction. If the animal has a sore udder, this is less painful than milking by hand. The milker is easy to clean by dismantling the parts and rinsing in hot water (do not boil, however, or it will damage the plastic). The milk bottle slides off and the pump snaps off the suction flange; the pump itself should not get wet. The ease of milking and the shorter time involved are both a plus when milking an uncooperative animal. It is a time and labor saver.
Shaw said that with this device she hopes to be able to continue milking her favorite dairy goats for a long time.
"I can do this forever! I see no reason why I should have to stop milking, now that I have this milker," she said. "I can go on with my goats! I plan to keep doing this until I’m at least 167 years old!"
For more info: www.udderlyez.com