Milk Pail 101
A superior sheep milking pail is as important to a dairyman as fine clubs are to a golf pro. Milk can be unforgiving when handled improperly. And, clean milk starts in the milking parlor. We try to avoid plastic as a general rule, so we were only interested in metal or glass milk containers. Even the most docile milk sheep will put their foot in it from time to time, so glass was out.
Upon settling on a traditional metal milking pail, we began our search. This is where things got a little tricky. There were tons of metal pail shaped containers on the market. But, very few of them were the appropriate size for sheep, and most had protruding handle fasteners on the INSIDE of the bucket. Many of them had ridges and crevices on the inside that could harbor bacteria.
We originally started with a galvanized metal pail. The surface corroded, and the handle wore out. Within a few weeks of use, daily cleaning took it’s tole on the bucket, and the seam at the bottom never seemed to get completely clean. We found an inexpensive stainless steel bucket at our local feed store. It worked fine for a bit, but still had seams on the inside which made cleaning difficult. We use dilute bleach to clean our pails, and the cheep stainless started showing wear quickly. One well placed kick from our ewe severed the handle, and the pail was retired.
We found a beautiful stainless steel pail made from a single piece of flow formed metal. There were no seams anywhere, even at the handles, and an optional lid made this pail ideal. It felt substantial and well made. Unfortunately, at the time we could only source a 12 quart pail which was way to large for a ewe. We decided to keep looking, but did find a nine quart size after purchasing the sheep milking pail we currently use.
Hoegger Supply Milk Pail Review
We ordered the goat milking pail from Hoegger Supply Company. The squatty shape of the 6 quart pail put us off at first, but proved to be very stable, and fit perfectly under the sheep. There are no seams on the inside of the pail, and the half moon lid design was genius. It really cut down on debris getting into the milk, and saved the entire bucket from ruin by restless sheep feet many times.
We worried the lid opening might not be big enough to easily shoot the milk into, but we had no problems. The steel has held up well, and it still looks new after a season of use. My only two complaints are the handle attachments are separate pieces from the main body, though they have held up fine. And, the cut in the lid used to create the half moon shape is showing some discoloration, and comes a little rough and unfinished.
In a perfect world, a combination of the flow formed metal pail in a 6 quart size, with a half moon lid would be ideal. Until that combo becomes available, the Hoegger goat milking pail is a great option. And, at around $50 for both the pail and lid, it is a pretty good value.