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questions about machine milking goats

 
Thekla McDaniels
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Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Hi all,

I am considering getting a milking machine for next year. I have one La Mancha milking this year. She is well behaved on the milking stand and is an easy milker. I bought her in April after March freshening. It took awhile to get to know each other, and I thought she was very odd looking without the ears I am used to, but now we are quite fond of each other

I also have 4 Nubian doelings who should breed this fall and freshen in the spring. When I count that up, it looks like I'll be milking up to 5 next year. There might be as few as three, if someone dies or doesn't breed, or what ever else happens in this crazy world
.
My right hand is complaining a lot about just milking one, and I wonder about getting a milking machine... the kind that uses a pump and tubes and all that. I can't seem to find much information about the different kinds, or how one cleans all that tubing.

I'd love to hear anyone's experiences with milknig machines, and also with milking half a dozen or more goats. And if anyone knows any hand exercizes to keep the swelling and numbness down.

Thanks.
Thekla
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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We have a bucket milking machine for our cows, but still milk the goats by hand (the kids do it, wife and I can't because of hands either). Went through the same struggle to find information.

As to cleaning the machine, we transfer the milk into a pail and then put the milker back together, put the inflations into a bucket of hot soapy water, and turn it back on. That sucks water through all the parts right away and prevents milk scum from building up. Then it gets washed proper in the sink using a couple special brushes--one made to fit the inflations and a LONG one to clean the tube. Overall, cleaning the machine takes time, but less time overall if you have two or more to milk. It does take more hot water to clean everything, so if you are off-grid that is something to consider. A 35 lb milk bucket will fit in a standard sized one-hole kitchen sink, but may not a regular two-sided sink.

We have the Hoegger cow milker. I really like the setup, the pump is quiet and the pulsator on the machine lets you use the more common dairy-barn claws and parts. We had to buy a bigger bucket for one of our cows, but the 35 lb pail is big enough for any goat and most family cows. I do not like their little goat belly pail.

If I were buying new now, I would buy this-- http://hoeggerfarmyard.com/xcart/Hoegger-s-Deluxe-Milking-System-35lb-Pail.html

Whatever you get, buy a COMPLETE second claw and inflations at a minimum (all rubber/silicone parts). Inflations break without warning, and the machine going down really stinks--especially right before a holiday weekend. I would rather clean one claw and a big bucket than 2 little pails and claws.

If you look around on craigslist, you can find them cheap from time to time.
 
wayne fajkus
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R scott, do you know the price of that milker. Link just shows a $100 deposit to order
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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They are $1800-2000, depending on options on the claw/bucket(s). NOT cheap!! but cheaper than carpal tunnel surgery.

But piecing one together yourself with new parts only saves one or two hundred, and the other quality brands are not much cheaper either.

This pump is a nice integrated unit that is QUIET. Many of the others are so loud you will spook the animals or have to buy longer lines and put it outside the barn.

One critical thing about all these pumps--they don't work when cold. You either need a small room in your barn with a light to keep it warm or you need to haul it into your house at night during the winter. Some will run fine down to 20, some only to 40, but all of them need to be cared for in the cold.

I have seen a few on craigslist considerably cheaper but they need a lot of work--usually they need all the rubber parts replaced or they sucked milk into the pump and it needs cleaning and seals replaced (easy stuff the SECOND time you have to do it). Best I have seen is 1000-1500 to get one to good usable condition. They are rare, at least in these parts.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Posts: 1532
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Hi, and thanks for sharing your experiences. I looked at the Hoegger milker too, and wondered about the total price. Just a ballpark estimate would be nice. That reminded me.....

Have you ever bought anything from Hoegger? I'd like to hear of other people's experiences with them.

I ordered cheese making supplies and a few other things from them a couple of months ago, and what a nightmare. Said they shipped the stuff, SWORE they shipped it but found it on their own front porch. Said they emailed me, SWORE they emailed me, that it must be in my spam folder. I asked them to forward me a copy of what they sent, and got nothing. Basically I came away with the idea that although they may sell quality products, and EVENTUALLY you will receive them, they do not want to be held accountable for reasonable business practices.

It is not that I would not buy from them again, but if I wanted something from them, I would factor in delay and frustration, inaccurate maybe deceitful communications, and poor to rude customer service.

I came across "Perry's Milkers" and wonder if anyone has any experience with what they sell.

Thanks also for the bit about cold weather and loudness, I would not have thought of asking about the noise thing,and would not have known why the machine did not work next March when I begin milking

Thekla
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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I think I called Perry's and they didn't have a pump when I needed one. And we were milking in a tent at the time, the portability was a huge factor for me.

ONE BIG issue to look out for from anyone selling rebuilt surge milkers (the bucket/pail like the small Perrry's)--the older ones with a soldered seam on the side may contain leaded solder!! There are a lot of them floating around ebay and other small shops. RUN AWAY if it has a side seam.

The other place the cheap systems go cheap is to use an HVAC vacuum pump (like the techs use to empty an AC before recharging it). They are LOUD and not built right for the job--built to make a strong vacuum and low volume when you need high volume low vacuum for a milker. But they only cost $100 for the little ones.

Keep in mind just about everyone that sells these are family businesses, or just expanded to having a couple outside the family employees. They all have issues from time to time. I have had issues w/ Hoegger but not that bad and they bent over backwards to fix it. My issues weren't exactly their fault, either--they were dropped shipped items that were wrong or suppliers that didn't deliver on time. Had similar issues with almost every dairy or goat supply business I can think of.

None have purposely tried to be dishonest, they just didn't want to lose money fixing the mistake. Do you know how much it costs a small business to give a refund? Those horrible 15% restocking fees some people charge barely cover the credit card and bank fees, let alone any time. For any small business to give a full refund on a credit card purchase is slightly amazing. Sorry for the rant tangent....


 
Thekla McDaniels
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Posts: 1532
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Hey, no apologies necessary. It is perspective from experience you are passing on. In the case of Hoeggers, they just weren't dealing straight with me, did not let me know the item they were advertising was not really in their posession, and they were going to order it since I ordered from them, and did not notify me of the potential delay. Delayed my shipment of several items waiting for what was on back order, then after waiting a long time.. 10 days- 2 weeks, shipped the partial order. Then I got notice the order had shipped then that it had not shipped, that it had, that it hadn't, then I got notice it had shipped and was given a tracking number. The shipper had not received the package....... it was a real mess, and as you say, it's likely they were trying not to lose the order, but never once did they come clean with me about what was going on on their end, just one alibi after another. What I minded was the absence of honesty and sense of fair play. I'll bend over backwards to accommodate a small business entity, but I like to know what is going on, and I like to hear a person say thanks for your understanding.

I am glad to know the Hoegger milker is quiet, that would have been an ongoing irritant to me, to have a machine that was loud. I don't want an ebay item because I don't know enough about it to know if I am getting a workable set up, and there is no reason to believe there will be any help when things don't work. I can't believe anyone is still selling anything but one piece stainless steel, except as an oddity or rememberance of other times.

I dry the girls up for the winter. We are not as cold as some places, but cold enough that being warm and alive is challenge enough. Add that they are pregnant through the coldest months, and I prefer to let them have all their life energy. Besides, it is nice not to have to milk. I have no back up milker, and when they are dry is the only time I can be gone from home for more than 111 hours.
I got the brochure from Perry's, and will be interested to see what they say about decibels and solder and cold. If they aren't forthcoming about those issues, then what else are they not saying?

You've helped a lot!

Thanks so much
Thekla
 
Stuart Whitby
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Bit late, but I'm currently having a terrible time with Hoegger.

I got a machine from them (hoeggerfarmyard.com), delivered in March this year. It's damaged in transit, and they're apparently unable to get replacement parts from the manufacturer. They also didn't send out the full order (though they billed for it), and are still selling things that (they tell me) are out of stock on their website.

The customer service reponse time is the worst I've seen anywhere; maybe 2 weeks between when I email and get a response - which tends to get basic stuff wrong or missed. The machine isn't quiet (maybe due to the bash to the pump which I told them about when I received it but that they haven't mentioned since), and the handles of the milking pail are really badly designed for carrying - the point you'd normally carry it at has a chunk of steel sticking up between your fingers to keep the seal tight.

I regret ever having dealt with them. Sadly, I'm still in regular "contact" to them ("with" would mean 2-way communication) trying to get this sorted out.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Hi Stuart,

So sorry you are having the Hoegger adventure. My milking machine is great, hasn't minded the cold yet, and I am very glad to have it.

I wonder about them though. I see in this thread that you and I are not the only ones to have problems with them, and the SAME problems, at that.

I've spoken personally with Joey, who makes the milking machines. I find him to be entirely reliable, but I can only imagine what a tough situation it is for him.

I think if you can get through again, and ask for him, you could likely find a reliable truthful answer and would receive the parts you are waiting for.

I'm toying with the idea of sending them a link to this thread. I wonder though, because of the particular (almost pathologic) personality we're dealing with in a key member of their family and customer service team whether it would make any difference that these are the kinds of things being discussed here at Permies.

 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 699
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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this is the bucket milker we use:
http://hambydairysupply.com/xcart/product.php?productid=2005&cat=77&page=1

it comes with all of the necessary parts to operate the machine, all of the detergent to clean the machine and even a "clean in place" device that allows you to clean the claw/tubing as it is designed to be clean. (hugely important for raw milk folks, imo)
here is a quick video about the CIP.



here is the goat milking page: http://hambydairysupply.com/xcart/home.php?cat=75
as far as i can tell the claw is the only thing different between the cow/goal milking setups.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Posts: 1532
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Hi Kelly,
Is a bucket milker the same as a belly milker? Where the milk does not go down tubes, but straight into the pail? much easier to keep clean?
 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 699
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:Hi Kelly,
Is a bucket milker the same as a belly milker? Where the milk does not go down tubes, but straight into the pail? much easier to keep clean?


a belly milker generally hangs from a strap thrown over the cow (not sure i have seen a goat belly milker).
a bucket milker sits on the ground next to the cow (goat) and milk runs into the bucket via the claw/tubes.

here is a good video of a bucket/floor milker:


some may notice that the amount of tubes has been great reduced from machines in the past (with the nupluse claw).
now there is only 1 tube between the milk pail and the cow, where as most in the past had 2 hoses.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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with the goat, it jsut sits in front of them, no need to hang from belly as belly is so close to ground. I can send you photos of mine, but I am on my way to wrk right now.
 
Kris schulenburg
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Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
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Got a bucket milker from Hambey's last year and it works great. The only thing to do is order the claws for your species and adjust the pressure on the vacuum pump for your species. It was about $2,000 which is a big investment. It will save your hands and alot of time. I think it is easier on the animals (sheep anyway).
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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