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Must Have Supplies for Homestead Dairies

Surprisingly it doesn’t take many gadgets or tools to milk your cows or goats. Here’s my list of must have supplies for homestead dairies.

The most expensive part of your dairy operation is obviously going to be your dairy animals. Thankfully, if you just plan to milk a handful of goats or a cow, you can get away with very basic supplies. Let’s start with milking equipment.

Milking Equipment for the Small Dairy

First you’ll need to decide on hand milking or machine milking. I have a whole blog post abut the differences between the two. Let’s talk about the supplies you’ll need for each.

Mechanized Milking

A small mechanized milking system/pump might be the way you want to go. These will cost you anywhere from $600- $1,500. The system should come complete with everything you need including the bucket, electric pump system, hoses, suction head/claw, etc. You’d still need to buy the sanitizing solutions separately.

Honestly, if our barn was set up for it I’d probably consider doing machine milking, especially with two cows due to freshen.

If you plan to use a milking machine you’ll barn would need to be outfitted with:

  • Running Water
  • HOT water
  • Stainless steel sinks
  • Electricity
  • Drainage system for the sinks

Our barn only has electricity so a milking machine isn’t an option.

Additionally, you will need a container (bottle or bowl) to contain your sanitizing solution and either disposable or washable wipes for sanitizing teats.

milk pump parts rough and tumble farmhouse
Dusty old milk machine that still works well.

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Hand Milking

I’ve hand milked my Jersey for the last three years and my goats for the last two. This is totally manageable for a small operation like mine and requires far less equipment than machine milking.

Okay are you ready? Here is the list for hand milking. I hope it’s not too overwhelming.

  • Stainless Steel Bucket

That’s it. That’s the list. Well, I guess technically it is a little longer.

  • Stainless Steel Bucket
  • Sanitizing Solution for teats
  • Container for Sanitizing Solution
  • Disposable or reusable wipes

You’d need those other items if you were using a machine to milk as well.

For hand milking you truly just need a food grade stainless steel bucket and your hands. For cows have a two gallon, goats you can get away with a gallon sized. Bonus if they have lids.

See? You can get by with only a few supplies for homestead dairies!

Sanitizing Equipment for Dairy Animals

Before a dairy animal is milked, the teats are sanitized with a washing solution and then dried.

Sometimes this takes quite a bit of effort if they decided to take a nap in a cow pie.

Some folks like to mix their own sanitizing solutions and that’s fine by me. Personally I prefer to use store bought sanitizer that is used by most dairies. Since we drink our milk raw and have some friends who also drink it raw, I bring out the big guns when it comes to sanitizing.

Udder Wash

I’ve used two types of udder wash and I don’t find much of a difference in either. One is Milk House Brand Udder Wash. The other is Milk House Brand Controlled Iodine Udder Wash.

Both of these come in concentrated, one gallon bottles. Which means if you have just a few goats or cows, a bottle of this stuff will last you a few years.

Bottle or Bowl for Sanitizer

Most larger dairies have these nifty spray bottles that spray upwards. You just premix your sanitizing solution, spray it on the teats and wipe until clean.

Personally I prefer to mix mine in a stainless steel bowl and bring that down with me. This is mostly because my cows have a habit of getting very mucky teats and it is more efficient to soak whole rags to get them clean.


I already cloth diaper so I do enough laundry around this house. I just use Costco paper towels and throw them out after use. You ALWAYS use clean towels on teats and NEVER use the same towel on more than one teat.

Old towels, rags, etc. work fine if you prefer to go the reusable route. At a farm I previously worked at we kept a mesh bag in the milking area and tossed the dirty rags in there. A clothespin bag or one of those plastic bag bags (if you follow that) make nice dispensers for clean towels. Always hang them though or mice will get into them.

I also don’t advise buying the disposable boxes of towels in the dairy section of your local fleet supply store. They tend to be super thin so you go through a half dozen on a single teat.

Filtering Raw Milk

The first thing I’d get is a stainless steel milk strainer. These aren’t completely necessary but I would HIGHLY recommend one. They just make filtering milk much easier, especially when you have gallons at a time.

Along with the metal strainer you will need to buy filters that fit it.

I honestly don’t know where my strainer was purchased from, it was a hand-me-down. These are the filters that came with it so they are the ones I buy.

As for storing the milk, half gallon mason jars with clean two piece lids is the way to go. (Please do not buy these on Amazon they are insanely priced).

White plastic lids are fine but they will leak if the jar is tipped at all.

We use blue painter’s tape on the lid and a sharpie to date the milk.

pouring milk rough and tumble farmhouse

Sanitizing Homestead Milking Equipment

As I mentioned before, if you plan to use a machine for milking there is a cleaning system you should run through. First a rinse, then a chlorinated wash, a rinse, then a sanitize. Check with your local fleet supply store for these.

With a hand milking situation you could certainly do the same system.

Personally I rinse with cool water, then wash with a strong dish soap and piping hot water, then the buckets are placed upside down on a wire rack to dry overnight.

I use brushes, not sponges or cloths that can harbor bacteria more easily, to clean. I have two bushes, one that is used to clean the inside of the bucket and one that cleans the outside. These go through the dishwasher once a week at least.

Final Thoughts

When gathering supplies for homestead dairies make sure you always go with stainless steel and cheaper isn’t always better. Do research on the product before buying. Most milking equipment, if cared for properly, can last for decades. Lehman’s is a good resource for small dairies.

Click here for more content on our Jersey girls or here for good ol’ goats!

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