Back when I bought my Udderly EZ Milker in 2007 (or was it 2006?), I think I paid $159 for it. That was the cost of a half ton of hay back then. The Udderly EZ is now selling for $189.95. That is still the cost of half a ton of hay. The reason I was in shock by the comments was because I cannot imagine choosing to make that kind of an investment in my farm and just giving up on it after a couple tries. I would be on the phone to Buck Wheeler or racking my brains to figure it out. But, that is just me. My father grew up during the Great Depression, therefore I am frugal to a fault . Or, maybe it's because of my Asperger's? At any rate, it bothers me that people have bought this product, can't get it to work, and then give up on it.
The picture at the top of this blog post is the Udderly EZ that I bought all those years ago. In the center, you see the original two bottles that came with the milker. Yeah, they look pretty sorry after all these years. I must confess that I did put them into the top rack of the dishwasher a few times--even though the company tells you not to. I discovered that is not really a good idea (maybe they knew what they were talking about?) as the bottles became somewhat misshapen as a result. Fortunately, the top that attaches to the extraction tube was not affected. I just have ugly bottles now.
A couple years ago, I bought the 18-ounce bottles that are round. I love them. They hold more milk and still fit under my does, though at a slight tilt. I just checked the product page for Udderly EZ accessories. They no longer carry the original, 12-ounce, square bottles. But, you can see that you can buy the round, 18-ounce, plastic bottles as well as pint-sized bottles in either plastic (hand wash) or glass (dishwasher but hold onto the bottle when you milk -- you don't want that heavy of an object hanging off your Nigerian's teat!).
Let me walk you through the process of milking a Nigerian Dwarf doe using the Udderly EZ Milker in pictures.
After you get your doe set up on the milk stand with a yummy treat, wipe her udder down with wipes or a dairy cloth soaked in warm disinfectant solution. In the past, I have used unscented baby wipes. They work fine. You want to ensure her teats are really clean.
I give the udder a massage as I'm wiping it down. Then, I strip the teats to ensure any bacteria in the teat is purged. Then, I massage the udder just a bit more.
Note: I watched some videos of a competitor to the EZ Milker, and they don't massage the udder before placing their inflations. Apparently, that works as well. But, after my experience as a woman who breastfed two hungry baby boys, I prefer to ease my does into the milking process by helping them let down their milk. It doesn't take much time, but it sure seems a lot kinder. That is just my opinion.
Place the top of the EZ Milker over the teat, snug against the udder, and pump five to six times. As the doe has had her udder massaged, you won't need to pump a whole lot. Let's be gentle here.
Now, just hang onto the bottle while it fills.
When that side is done, move the EZ Milker to the other teat.
Do you see the stream of milk right there above the label on the bottle? It just pours into the bottle effortlessly.
Ah, I realized after taking the first picture that I was tilting the bottle. Some of the folks on the Facebook group said the EZ Milker did not work for them because it tilts under the doe. Well, it does work. I'm not sure why it wouldn't unless your doe has a rock-hard teats due to mastitis or greater than a 12-hour fill.
I had tilted the milker by habit in the first picture because my original 12-ounce bottle would not fit straight up under my does: one of which was only 18 inches tall (Carrie's Caprine's LBE Sable).
Here you see the milker, when using an 8-ounce colostrum bottle, fits under an 18.5-inch-tall doe.
For my taller girls, who are 21 inches tall and very milky with larger udders than the little doe shown in this picture to your left, I use the 18-ounce bottle, which tilts slightly under them.
The height of the 8-ounce bottle + extraction tube = 9.75 inches. The 18-ounce bottle + extraction tube = 11.75 inches.
The milker naturally comes off the teat when the bag is empty, so hang onto it. I am one who would cry over spilled milk <grin>.
If you need to remove the milker from the teat while there is still suction on the teat, you have your choice of two methods for removing it:
1) Gently slide a finger between the teat and the top of the extraction tube to break the seal.
2) Tilt the top of the EZ Milker unit away from the extraction tube to release the vacuum. Buck Wheeler shows a demonstration of this in this video. The video shows how to milk colostrum from a mare, but it is an excellent "how to" explanation. This is an old video. I noticed he is using the discontinued, square, 12-ounce bottle.
Don't forget to use something on the teats to prevent mastitis when you are done.
Now that you are done collecting the milk, you have your choice of either popping a lambar teat onto the top of your collection bottle or pouring the milk into a different bottle.
It is very easy to pour the milk. You can unscrew the bottle from the extraction tube, and pour that way. But, I find it easier, with these bottles with the small opening, to just remove the inflation from the extraction tube and pour through the connected extraction tube. There is a nicely shaped lip (designed to fit the curves of the animal's body) the makes the pouring easier.
Now, my bottles are filled and placed in my bucket for carrying to the kid barn. I am going to feed the grown goats and all my hens first, so I put some hot water (from the tap, not boiling) into the bucket before I came out to milk. It is pretty chilly this morning. I will be disbudding my 10-day old doeling this morning. So, I want to ensure she has a full belly of warm milk first.
Right now, I am giving all the milk to the kids. I am only milking one doe. Once I want to keep milk for our family as well, I will place a half-gallon Mason jar in my stainless-steel bucket and put about an inch or two of ice (depending on how hot it is outside) in the bottom. I have a plastic tote with a handle for carrying all the kid bottles.
Now, it's time to feed the babies! Here, Blythmoor Coffee Bean is getting a drink. I started feeding the kids through the fence because they were so excited to get their bottles that they would try to leap in my lap as soon as I entered the pen. Well, that was fine until one day I got nailed in the nose by a hopping kid as I bent over. I only have one pair of glasses, and I need them to earn a living as a copyeditor! Things are a bit more sane now <smile>.
p.s. If you see any errors in my blog posts, give me a free pass! No one can effectively edit their own writing. This is why folks need to hire copyeditors.
I am not sure why some Nigerian breeders have had such a hard time getting the Udderly EZ Milker to work for them. There are two possibilities that come to mind:
1) Folks are not massaging the udder to help the milk drop, and thus, they are pumping way too much for the comfort of their doe.
2) Users of the Udderly EZ are unwittingly tilting the pump unit away from the extraction tube, thus breaking the vacuum seal. Watching the video I linked to previously in this blog post will give you a great visual of that, so you will know what not to do during milking. Also, I would suggest ensuring your doe is standing calmly. Give her a treat and some pets before you milk her. If she is kicking and moving about on the stand, it is likely you may be breaking the seal on that extraction tube.
And, a third possibility was just suggested to me by someone on the Facebook group:
3) You will get a better seal on the teat if it is still moist from wiping it off when you clean it beforehand. Buck Wheeler advises rubbing a bit of olive oil on the teat right before placing the Udderly EZ Milker.
Enjoy your Udderly EZ Milker. If you have questions, I know Buck Wheeler is anxious to attend to them.
There are other systems out there if the Udderly EZ does not work for you. There is an electric milker that many Nigerian breeders like that costs a bit over $600. Personally, it didn't even occur to me to change brands, so I just bought the Ultimate EZ Milker, which is also an electric system, for $549.00. I tried it out last night and was pleasantly shocked that I don't have to wash the tubes as you do with all other milking systems. I only have to wash the same elements on the Ultimate EZ that I currently wash on the Udderly EZ. Life just doesn't get any better than that!