If you have dreamed of starting your own dairy program but cows seem a bit too big for your homestead, then milking goats might just be the answer you have been looking for.
Goats are smaller options compared to cows (For more Cow vs Goat Comparisons), but they still require a good amount of training when it comes to milking. There are a few things that can make your time milking a little easier, one of those things is a milk stand.
A milking stand is normally an elevated platform that holds your goat in place while you milk. You can buy pre-made milk stands or you can Build a Goat Milking Stand but I do recommend using one.
If you have a first-timer or a goat new to the milk stand training is going to be needed to get them used to it and you milking them. Today I’m welcoming Heather from Green Eggs and Goats! She’s sharing her expertise on training a goat to cooperate on the milking stand–something which, I can attest, can be a bit of a challenge sometimes!
I’ll be honest, training a new goat to the milk stand is not the easiest homesteading task I’ve ever set out to do. Some goats are an absolute dream, they hop trustingly onto the stand and stand politely until you finish. Most of the time, however, you leave your first few milkings feeling like you have just completed a triathlon!
Tips for Training Your Goat on a Milk Stand
1. Start Training Your Goat on a Milk Stand with Food
All goats come with different personalities and appetites. When I’m training, I will allow them to eat more sweet feed (or even put some molasses on the feed) if they have a sweet tooth. I have one goat who loves alfalfa, so I let her have extra at the start of the milking season. If you can distract your goat with something yummy while you are training them, things are much easier. Once she gets the hang of things, then I slowly change out her feed for more hay or her regular ration.
2. Start Training Your Goat on a Milk Stand Early
If you have your goat sometime before kidding season, then you should start getting them used to the milk stand months in advance. Start by feeding them there regularly and while they are eating mess with them like you would when you are milking. You won’t be able to actually milk them, but you will start them on their milking routine.
Note: It is never too early to start getting goats used to the milk stand, start even earlier by trimming young goats’ hooves while they are on the stand or you can feed them and then brush them while they are on there. Try and keep it a positive experience.
3. Talk to Your Goat to Keep Them Calm
A kicking goat can really bring out my frustration, but I try not to show it. Talk calmly and sweetly to the goat, and try to keep a peaceful environment. Sometimes I even diffuse a little lavender when I’m training a goat. I’m not sure if it calms her or me, but either way, it seems to help.
3. Use Restraints if Necessary
I don’t like using hobbles, but I will if I have a kicker on the stand. Goat hobbles are a type of restraint that attaches the back legs together to keep them from moving. They aren’t a foolproof method, but they can help calm the kicking down a little bit.
4. Keep One Hand on the Rear Leg
If I have a goat who is really kicking and likely to hurt me or step in the milk bucket, I place my left hand on her back leg and milk with only my right. Of course, this slows things down, since I’m milking one-handed, but it protects the precious milk I’m working hard to get.
5. Be Patient and Don’t Rush
Milking a goat in training will take longer than it will milk a seasoned doe. You will want to plan for about 30 minutes or more depending on the goat. Planning will allow you some extra time and you will not be in a rush to move on to the next thing. Rushing is a good way to stress out your goat in training and yourself. Remember you are trying to keep the milking experience as pleasant as possible.
6. If She’s a Squatter, Try a Lower Bucket
One common complaint when training a goat to the milk stand is that she will squat to the point that you can barely get to her udder to milk her. My easy solution for this is to find a shorter bucket to use until she learns to stand tall. A small stainless steel pan with low sides that holds almost a gallon would work great.
7. Milk Trainees in a Separate Bucket
If you are milking both a trainee and a seasoned milker, it is probably smart to use a separate bucket. The trainee is much more likely to put her foot in the bucket, so protect your other milk by taking two buckets to the barn.
Jill here: this is my favorite trick for milking grumpy goats and cows! I will often milk into a smaller, separate bucket and then dump it into my big milk bucket–just in case.
8. Stick to a Routine When Training a Goat on a Milk Stand
Starting with a milking routine can really help train your goat to the milk stand, especially if this routine includes feeding time. Try and keep the times that you milk around the same time every day, this way each day there are no surprises. By the third day, they usually begin to settle into the routine of milking. She will look forward to the feed in her bowl and won’t care too much that you are milking her. Even if it takes longer than this, don’t give up, she’ll come around!
9. Don’t Give Up
Don’t give up, goats can be stubborn but once they get the hang of things and understand that you can be more stubborn they will settle down. It will get easier and your goat will stand and quietly get milked….eventually.
Are You Training Your Goat on a Milk Stand?
Goats are not born knowing exactly what to do when the time comes for you to milk them. It takes time patience and training. A milking stand can be a great help when it comes to adding a new goat to your milking routine. Remember it isn’t always easy training a goat but if you stick with it your goat will peacefully stand and get milked.
More About Goats:
- How to Use a Milking Stand (video)
- How to Milk a Goat (video)
- How to Tell When Your Goat is in Labor
- 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Get Goats
Heather is a wife, daughter, mother of three, homeschooler, homesteader, egg gatherer, cow milker, goat chaser, and country girl blogger. She and her family live on about three acres of land in beautiful Remlap, Alabama. You can catch all of her adventures at her Green Eggs & Goats blog or on Facebook!