Directorate Communication

Rules for clean hand-milking

Milking cows by hand can be as hygienic and satisfactory as milking machines and is often more gentle to the udder. However, precautions must be taken to get the healthiest milk. If the correct milking procedures are followed, the cows can give more milk; and if you are selling your milk, there will always be a ready buyer.


Here are tips on
how to get the cleanest milk
when milking by hand

  • The persons milking the cows
    should be clean, healthy and
    free of infectious diseases.
  • Do not use a cloth to clean the udder and teats because it is unhygienic and can cause problems such as mastitis.
  • Keep the cows free of dirt. Prevent their hindquarters from becoming matted with manure and mud.


  • Wash your hands before milking.
    Your hands should be moist but
    not dripping wet.
  • Groom the cows regularly to remove loose hair and dirt because these can fall into the pail during milking.
  • Do not dip your hands into the milk because this can spread diseases.
  • Detect and treat all cows showing signs of udder infection.
  • Pour the milk into a container through a fine metal gauze strainer or muslin. Tie the muslin so that dirt cannot bypass it.
  • Tie the cow's hind legs so that the tail does not swish around.
  • Keep the milk refrigerated or in a
    cool place after milking.

                                           Follow these rules for   

                            correct procedures of milking by hand


This diagram shows the action of the hand and how milk is drawn out of the teats during milking

Adapted from "Ten golden rules for milking by hand" and "Simple rules for clean milk" in Land,  
July and January 1997


Compiled by Directorate Communication, National Department of Agriculture
in cooperation with the Fertilizer Society of South Africa

Printed and published by the National Department of Agriculture                               
and obtainable from Resource Centre, Directorate Communication
Private Bag X144, Pretoria, 0001 South Africa