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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is intented as a milk stand training sharing thread.
There seem to be different approaches to this topic, and I am curious about different people’s ways.
When I learned to milk at a goat workshop, all the does just stood freely on the table. They were pretty good about letting strangers practice on them, except one, and the owner didn’t make her by tying her up or anything.
I liked that approach very much, and so I didn’t have my girlfriend build a stanchion into the milkstand. My first doe I trained was confident and hungry, and that made training her relatively easy.
Now, my second doe is more timid. (I had her attached to the stand on a leash on her harness, until one day I forgot to do it and she was fine.) I have used a lot of patience with her, and after 9 weeks now she has gotten to the point where she will let me milk uninterruptedly. Up until now she was trying to run away and turning sideways if she wasn’t in the groove. I would give her a few seconds and when I heard her eat with “piggy noises” I knew she was back in the groove, and she would let me milk again.
Another strategy I used was, if she refused to let me milk after getting a couple of chances, I would send her out. She is still nursing a kid, so it was ok not to milk her out. I was sometimes doubtful about my training with her, because it took so very long for her to get to this point, but I did want to try to do it without force, as it feels better to me. She has gotten so good, now I feel it was the right way for for.
So, I would like to know, how do YOU train a FF milker? What are some of the lessons you learned while trying to get your doe to cooperate?
 

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Fair-Haven
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I train babies early to jump on the milkstand to eat, get groomed etc. - so being on the stand itself isn't a stressor. While they are there I run my hands all over the body, and food is readily available in the bowl. I don't ever tie a leg up or hobble. I milk through any bad behavior so they know what I am doing will not stop. I feel tying and hobbling creates more stress. I've had a few difficult ones, but after a fairly short period of time they are standing fine. I do notice some act up if I run out of feed in the bowl - so keep more handy for a refill.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I train babies early to jump on the milkstand to eat, get groomed etc. - so being on the stand itself isn't a stressor. While they are there I run my hands all over the body, and food is readily available in the bowl.
I do that too! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Each doe is different. I have had some that I never had to train, they were just natural easy and others who were horrible. I change my training methods according to the does behavior.
If you have time, would you share how you trained one of the horrible ones?
 

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I always use a stanchion on my milk stand, but not every goat needs it. I always start out with them in the stanchion so they don't learn that they can leave any time they feel like it. And let's face it--I'm kind of a slow milker so I really need my girls to not leave!

One of the things about most dairy goats is that their kids get pulled at birth, so they learn to love being milked since their udders get tight. My goats all keep their kids until weaning, so they have little personal desire to be milked and are only there for the grain. If not held in place, they will leave as soon as the food is gone. The one doe who never needed a stanchion was the one who lost her kids at birth and the bond transferred to me. When I milk her, it's like I'm her baby so she stands still for as long as I'm handling her udder. I think a lot of goats whose kids are pulled at birth end up transferring their maternal affection toward humans and so are much more likely to stand and be milked without needing to be held.

I also only milk once/day so my goats get half as much milk stand training as the average dairy doe. It makes a difference! Most of my girls don't get trained on the stand until they freshen. I know some folks like to get them up there and handle their udders before freshening, but I've never seen the point. Almost every doe is extremely ticklish about me handling her teats before she freshens, but almost none of them are ticklish about it after freshening, so it seems like for most goats desensitizing is a waste of time. If I do have a goat that hates having her udder handled, I just try to be patient and gentle. I handle the udder a little bit and when she stops kicking I take my hands off and feed her a treat. I start lengthening the time I keep my hands on her udder and within five minutes she's usually not kicking any more. After 2-3 sessions she stands perfectly still and we can get away from the treats. If she kicks at me violently, she may get a swat. I'll put up with nervous kicking, but I don't put up with viciousness.

I also once had a doe that learned to pee and poop on the stand as a way to interrupt my milking. Gah, that was frustrating! She'd pee and poop about 5 times each. It was disgusting and it made milking take FOREVER (which made her mad so she'd pee and poop more!). I finally cured her by keeping a charged sprayer hose next to the milk stool. Every time that doe lifted her tail and started to squat, I trained a jet of cold water on her bottom. If she went to the bathroom, she had to stand there while I sprayed down the stanchion and floor beneath her (and maybe she got sprayed a bit extra too for good measure!). I want to say it took about 3 days worth of showers before she finally made the connection and the bodily excretions began to subside. By the end of the week she was totally cured, and afterwards she always made a point to pee and poop before she came into the milking area. I think that was the most difficult and frustrating milk stand issue I ever had to deal with. It was partly my fault though because I didn't know what to do so I let her get away with it for 2-3 weeks, thinking it would subside. Instead it escalated to nightmare levels before I figured out the hose trick, and by then it was difficult to break her of it.

Anyway, that's about all I have. You can post whatever you like to the forums. Or you can just post your question and I can copy/paste this response. If you can get your girls to stand and be milked without a stanchion, more power to you!
 

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Definitely following this thread! I have one right now that I have to lift onto the stand. She stands stock still when I milk her though (FF, just freshened Monday), so that’s nice. She would jump up before for hoof trims with grain, but now she’s hesitant.

Most of mine can be bribed with sweet feed.
 

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I put my milk stand in the goat pen before they were even pregnant. I’d periodically go out with grain and lock them in and brush them down. Once they freshened, I began handling their udder, some kicked a lot. I’ve heard to never let go of the udder as they kick so they don’t think they’ve kicked you off. That worked for me, I would just keep my hand on it and let them dance. I did have a super difficult doe. My stand hadn’t been moved yet so it was in the rain and she refused to get on it wet. I would dry it off with a towel, but if it wasn’t bone dry, she wasn’t near it. So I would tie her to a sturdy post to milk. She KNEW what a bucket was for and the first time I came near her with one, she aimed for that bucket. (Also, this was her third kidding and I had only owned her for this last one, she supposedly hadn’t been milked before. Ha.) after trying over and over (I’m pretty dang stubborn and I wasn’t about to let a goat out stubborn me), and slowly escalating, I finally milked her by tying her head up as high as comfortably possible, tying her rump to the fence, and putting a bucket beneath her rib cage. Boy did she look ridiculous, but she knew every trick in the book for keeping me away (so did I thanks to TGS), and she used them. Then I slowly, over a few days, got rid of the ‘extra’ devices until she milked just tied to the fence. One day, the stand was dry and I had her jump up. I was nervous about locking her in because with how much she could jump around, I didn’t want her to go over the side and leave her head behind. She milked perfectly that first time. The next day I decided to lock her in since she was so beautiful earlier. She jumped over the side and left her head behind, dang it. Thankfully my stanchion is a quick release and she didn’t get hurt, but I was shaking, she was just happy I wasn’t milking her. I put the stand against a wall after that. It took a lot of time and patience (I mean a LOT of patience), but she ended up my favorite milking doe. I eventually sold her because she didn’t have the registry I’m aiming for, but I think I’m a little less stressed without her and her stubborn ways. Several of my does let me milk without needing to be locked in. I think if you get the right temperament doe, and have plenty of time and patience, training them to the stand is easy. Watch out for those stubborn ones though, they’re inherently naughty! My favorite piece of advice, I can’t for the life of me remember where I read it, was to have super low expectations those first few times. Go out expecting to not bring any milk back. Don’t bring kids (of any kind), just you and the doe. Give yourself plenty of time.The calmer you are, the calmer she will be. Expect her to kick, to spill milk, to be naughty. Deep, calming breaths. It would be better for you to release her for a little bit and try again later, than for her to have a bad experience. Just my opinion.
 

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Keeping things consistent is very important. Only one doe have I had to dry up and sell to a pet home. You have to remember that the does do not know what you are asking of them.
I like getting them used to the stand beforehand this way its one less thing you have to deal with when you go to milk her for the first time.
In the beginning, I start out by getting them used to me sitting next to them on the stand and touching them.
If I have a kicky doe who does not improve over time I will give them a tap on their shoulder, nothing hard but enough to get their attention. you have to be creative, I haven't had hobbles work but some swear by them.
Do not discipline their hind end, you don't want them to get butt shy.
If you have a doe who squats put a bucket under her so she cant.
With all of this you have to be reasonable with yourself and your doe. If either or both of you are miserable then try something else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
My favorite piece of advice, I can't for the life of me remember where I read it, was to have super low expectations those first few times. Go out expecting to not bring any milk back.
With my May I was super nervous and had very low expectations. Then she surpised me with the cud chewing soldier stance. When that ended after 3 days the real work began! Then I went back to allowing myself to bring an empty bucket back, which never happened, but that took the pressure off.
You have to be in love with goats I think, to have such patience.
 

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Great thread! I will be building my first milking stand soon and was wondering how I was going to go about training. I am a bit concerned about Prim milking first time. She hates absolutely everything I do to her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Just for the record, my sweet May did go on strike when I upped her grain. I was reminded on here, that it is said a pound of grain for a pound of milk. She was giving more than a pound and was getting half a pound of grain. Once she had consumed her pound she decided she wouldn’t work for anything other than grain! She was going to walk off the job!
I had to get the harness, tie her on and hold her in with my head! She pouted and refused to touch the alfalfa. This happened a few times, even when I split the grain into portions. Luckily she didn’t fight me, just tried to walk away, and when she couldn’t she just stood there.
Now I mix the grain with alfalfa, and we’re both happy again.
And her milk went up!
 
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