Thursday, July 7, 2011

Product Review: The Henry Milker

Hand milking, for me, is an exercise in frustration. Maybe it's because I have mini breeds of goats, with corresponding mini ta-tas, or maybe it's because I'm just an awkward klutz. Either way, I was getting pretty discouraged about our prospects of ever getting milk from our goats. Then, one day while perusing a copy of Dairy Goat Journal (do I know how to have a good time or what?!) I saw it (cue angels singing) - The Henry Milker.

In my more desperate moments of failed hand milking, I'd dreamt of getting my hands on an electric milker. But they are:
a) HUGE - big time overkill for three little goats,
b) Expensive! Three and four figures expensive. Do you know how long I'd have to milk my goats to get $700 worth of milk out of them?
c) Complicated as all get-out. Pulsators, tubes, compressors, yada yada. Too many things to break. And, if you have to have a degree in mechanical engineering to assemble the thing fresh each day, well... it's not for me.

Which is why a Henry Milker was so appealing to me. It has seven parts total - a hand pump, teat cup, two tubes, a quart mason jar, modified jar lid and ring. C'est tout. Now, what they charge you for this simple little set up is a bit hard to swallow at $139, but I used the code "DAIRYGOAT" at checkout and got $10 off and a spare jar, lid, ring, size small teat cup & pair of tubes, which lessened the sting of the price tag a bit.

Setting up and using the milker were both a piece of cake. Even I can't mangle it too badly when there are only seven parts involved.

The quart jar comes with a lid that has had two hollow plastic spike-like fixtures set into it (I can't, for the life of me, think of the proper word for these things). You set the lid on the clean jar, then tighten it down with the ring. You affix one tube to each of the spike/receivers. One of your affixed tubes will now hook up to the hand pump, the other tube, to the teat cup (a large, blunt syringe with the plunger removed), and then you're ready to milk!

Fritzen, our mini LaMancha herd queen, giving up the goods.

The good stuff!

As far as using the milker, the advice that I have to offer is:

a)After cleaning the udder/teats, you'll need to clear the teat by hand milking once or twice before attaching the milker. This will not only clear any old/funky milk and debris from the orifice, but also encourage your goat to let down her milk. (I also massage the udder a little while washing her up. If all else fails, you can give her a little bump like the baby kids do to get the milk to let down.)

b) You need to be sure to get your teat cup straight on. A bad approach can lead to pinching, which can lead to a kick in the head.

c) Watch the pressure! The literature that comes with the milker advises that you not go above 10 on the gauge (I don't know what the unit of measurement is. PSI?). I've noticed that my does require between 5-7 to flow well. The lower that you can get away with, the better.

d) Let the pressure fluctuate. Once you have the milk going well, letting the pressure fall (and consequently, the milk flow) will not hurt your overall output. In fact, keeping the pressure constantly high without a break can damage the teat over time. I pump mine up until it begins to flow, maintain that pressure level for 10 seconds or so, then take a break from pumping to let the pressure fall gradually. When it hits a point where the flow is down to drips, I pump it back up.

Besides the relative affordability of this milker versus others, and it's idiot-proof operation, the Henry Milker has one additional benefit - cleanliness. I am a germaphobe, and the idea of milking by hand, allowing hair and straw and God-knows-what-else to fall into the bucket while milking really grossed me out. There's also the issue of the doe either stepping in and spoiling, or knocking over the bucket of milk. These are all non-issues with this milker.

I do still filter my milk, because you never know, but I'm far less concerned about contaminants when using this contained system.

So overall, I would recommend this milker for folks who have just a few goats to milk and are slow or inefficient at hand milking. It comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, which seems like a reasonable length of time for a farmer and goat to determine whether or not this sort of set-up is for them. We're using the heck out of it over here, and the does like it a lot better than my clumsy, endless hand milking, so we'll be keeping ours. ;)


  1. I purchased a Henry Milker over a year ago but did not have a chance to use it until now and am very disappointed. I tried it on a doe that freshened 4 days ago and could not get it to work. Using the recommended pressure of 10 I got nothing and when I risked raising the pressure to 15 I only got a couple of drops. Now this doe is not easy to milk by hand due to such small teat openings, especially on one side, but that was why I was hoping the Henry Milker would work. Considering what I paid and that it just does not work, I am more than a little disappointed. Before purchasing it, I checked for customer reviews and could only find positive ones. Yet it is impossible that I am the only person with this experience.

  2. Is this the first year that you have milked her, Alain?

    While the Henry Milker did work really well for us, we had one doe who would occasionally just refuse to let down, no matter how much we massaged her or how much pressure we used. When she wasn't in the mood she just wouldn't let go!

    If all else fails, I believe that the company that produces the milker will accept returns within 30 days. I hope that you can get it to work for you, but if you can't I hope that you can at least get your money back.

    Good luck, my friend!

  3. I acquired the doe last year from a couple who had milked her by hand, so she is not new to being milked. She is a calm doe, so it isn't that she is acting up like a first timer. I purchased the milker a little over a year ago and tried it a few times on a doe I had at the time without much success. I could barely get enough milk to cover the bottom of the jar, so I contacted the maker and received a few suggestions. By this time I had sold the doe and never had a chance to try the milker until now. As I said this doe has one side that is a lot more difficult to milk than the other and that is by hand. Still I couldn't get the milker to work on either side even following all the instructions and the later suggestions. I e-mailed the maker again but no reply this time, so it seems pretty clear that I made a bad purchase. Perhaps I would have paid a bit more to purchase the Ez milker (I think that's the name), but then again it may not been any better. Thanks for your good wishes.

    1. Hi Alain,
      I answer my email every night before turning in. Please resend to

      It is not my intent for you to keep a Henry Milker that does not work. I do not have an unhappy customer out there, I do not want you to be the first! That is why you do not see negative testimony.
      Mike Henry

  4. And that is why intend on buying one, the customer service is beyond wonderful. Mr. Henry has proven that through all my research. Thanks for standing behind your product, I will be ordering one today!

  5. Just to clarify - this is NOT a sponsored post.

    We paid full price for our milker and weren't compensated in any way for this review. I wrote this because I was really excited about finding a product that worked well at what we needed it to do. -MJ

  6. Is it not a concern that the milk has to travel through plastic tubing? I thought you shouldn't milk into a plastic container because plastic can harbor bacteria. Aren't the tubes hard to keep clean?

  7. We run ours though the dishwasher rather than scrubbing them out with a bottle-type brush, the idea being that we'll avoid etching the tubing. Since we also do homebrewing, we have food-grade iodine on hand that we occasionally soak the tubing in as well. It works fantastically, but it does discolor the plastic a bit.

    We have also replaced the tubes that originally came with our milker several times over the past three years with some identical, food grade tubing from our local homebrew store. So far, so good. ;)

  8. I made a very similar milker for less than 35.00 using parts from Harbor Freight and our beer supply store. It works like a charm, even on my first fresheners. Also, (possibly because I'm a woman who remembers being connected to a milking contraption) there are also some comfort issues with the Henry milker that I think can be easily solved. I disinfect before and after use using saniSTAR which is also avialable at beer supply stores.

  9. Getting the Henry Milker was such a blessing for me. It was recommended by the lady I bought some goats from. It cut milking time more than half, kept the milk clean and I have less hassle from the goats trying to kick my hand away. I love it.