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 triathalon!
9 Tips for Training a Goat on the Milking Stand
1. Give them what they want, 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 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. Talk sweetly and keep a calm atmosphere. 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. Hobbles. I hate to use them, but I will strap goat hobbles to the back legs if I have a kicker on the stand. It isn’t foolproof, but it does 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. Don’t rush. It will take longer to milk a trainee than a seasoned goat. Go ahead and plan for that and don’t try to rush things. You just add stress to yourself if you rush.
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. The one pictured is a stainless steel pot that came out of a camping set. It will hold almost a gallon and works 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 into my big milk bucket–just in case…)
8. Be more stubborn than a goat. You will win this battle and she will stand nicely once she understands that you are more stubborn than her!
9. Keep trying. 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!
Looking for More Goat Goodness? Check out these posts!
- How to Use a Milking Stand (video)
- How to Milk a Goat (video)
- How to Milk Once per Day
- How to Tell When Your Goat is in Labor
- 6 Tips for Safely Handling Raw Milk
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!