I've hand milked goats for over 4 years. I love the farm it gives me pretty amazing, toned arms, let me tell you. . .
I have milked 4-6 on average without more than a few months break in all that time.
I didn't have a machine until last year. I bought Elsie, our previous Mini Jersey cow. Thank GOD I had that machine. I thought a machine would make milking the cow and goats so much easier.
Wrong - kind of.
I would never be without a machine for a cow that gives 4-5 gallons a milking. Never. That is a 2 hour hour job. Shew. No thanks. Even for me. . .a pro and very quick. No thanks.
But I hated that machine for the goats and quickly gave it up and used it only for the cow.
I hated cleaning that thing. the noise. the cleaning. the weight of it up and down my mountain. the cleaning. the noise. Yea, I think I was clear there.
With Ellie, the new Mini Jersey, I tried the machine and realized with her larger teat size and much lower production, it was much quicker and easier to just hand milk. No machine fuss. Since she has longer teats and I'm fast at milking, I have 1.3 gallons in about 8 minutes. Nice!
So my overview? Have a cow giving over 1-2 gallons? GO WITH A MACHINE! Have more than 6 goats? Get a double stanchion and two claws and go with the machine - otherwise, hand milking wins out!