Glimmercroft - Milkstand Manners

Laura Workman, Glimmercroft, Lynnwood, Washington

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During the last couple weeks of pregnancy, your doe should be getting up on the milking stand for a daily handful of grain.  Once she’s OK with that, and with having her head locked into the stanchion, you should begin to place her feet and handle her udder so she can get accustomed to it.  If she fusses, DO NOT stop.  She needs to learn that you’re going to do what needs to be done, regardless of what she does.

It seems milk goats that are not raising their own kids clearly understand that they are DAIRY goats, and are very good on the milkstand from the start.  I've noticed, however, that most goats nursing thier own babies feel there's a conflict of interest regarding who should have access to their milk.  It is these that often cause untold grief for their milkmaids.  In the interest of reducing grief, those of us who allow their does to raise their own kids share any information we can find that will help in dealing with these devoted mothers. 

Imagine the relief of not having to fight with your goat, or make sure her grain always lasts as long as it takes you to milk her.  Imagine not needing to have someone hand-feed your goat bits of grain to keep her distracted or entertained.  I've also tried hobbles, which were somewhat effective, but could get pretty uncomfortable for the goat by the time they were tight enough to stop the goat from squatting, and I had one determined goat that would go ahead and squat no matter how it felt!  I've tried tying feet down to the milkstand, whereupon the goat jumps and kicks the ties apart or simply squats.  "Ah," you say, 'but you can put something under her to keep her from squatting."  And having tried several variations on that theme, I say, "Much easier said than done effectively!"  I also couldn't help thinking that a smooth foreudder was being damaged by the time I got a block far enough back under the goat to be effective at keeping the rear end up. 

After 12 years of trying different methods, I've finally come up with a method that is very little hassle, works all the time, and causes no discomfort to the goat.  That's not to say she won't fight it at first.  You are, after all, restraining her, and no goat will put up with a new restraint without a fuss.  But once she's used to it, she'll go on eating her grain and chewing her cud like nothing is going on, and you can, at long last, milk in perfect peace!

Below you will see pictures of the minimal equipment necessary for the goat's comfort and yours - an eyebolt, a spring snap hook carabiner clip, a short length of chain with loops big enough for the carabiner and a dog leash snap to attach to, and a dog's traffic leash about 12 inches long with the entire 12 inches being the loop-type handle.  Here's an Amazon link to such a leash, which may or may not be outdated by the time you read this.  If you can't find a leash like this, I imagine a 12-inch loop of fat, soft rope with a swivel clip would work nearly as well, although the leash is easier on the circulation to the leg.

Put your doe up on the milkstand and mark where her tail is.  Mount the eyebolt about a foot above and five or six inches to the rear of the mark.  Use the carabiner clip to attach the chain to the eyebolt. While the doe is standing on the stand, pass the dog leash handle behind the cannon bone of the doe's near hind leg, which is the leg farthest from the wall.  This leg is the best choice because the it's harder for the doe to kick when this leg is tied.  Once the leash is behind the cannon bone, pass the clip end of the leash around the front of the leg and through the loop, then close the loop on the doe's cannon bone.  Then lift the doe's leg until the top of her hock is about even with the bottom of her vulva.  This lift is easiest done using the crook of your elbow to stabilize her hock.  When her leg is in position, snap the leash onto the chain to keep it in position, and stand back.

Watch the doe while she's sorting things out because her other rear foot may slip out from underneath her, and you'll want to be on hand to quickly help her back to a standing position.  If you can't manage that, immediately unclip her leg, wait until she stands up again, and clip her leg back into position.  I've never had a doe fall down more than once or twice.  Most don't fall down at all.

When the doe has her leg in this position it is impossible for her to squat, jump, or kick effectively, so just go about your business.  When you're finished milking, dipping, taping, or whatever, lift the doe's leg, again with the crook of your elbow, unsnap the leash and remove it, then let the doe's leg down gently.  The first couple of times, she may need a little extra time to finish her grain, but soon she'll be gobbling her grain carefree while you milk.  Eventually, she'll become resigned to being milked, and will stand well most of the time without your having to put her leg up.  When she does act up, though, you can be confident that you can handle the situation calmly and gently, and to your complete satisfaction!

NOTE: In the pictures below, where Annari was good enough to model for us even though she'd just been milked out, the eyebolt is not in the ideal position, being not far enough behind the Annari's tail.  She'd be more comfortable with a bit more room for her leg, and I'll get to that before too much longer.

Here's the equipment.

System  Chain  Leash

And here's our lovely model, FMCH Glimmercroft Annari Faurie.

Restrained  Restrained

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This page updated July 31, 2015.

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