Copper is the only first freshener I have this year, so she is new to the milking routine. The great thing about training her to milk is that she is very, very tame. Compared to some of the other goats I have trained she has been a breeze. There are a few tricks I have learned along the way that I want to share with you.
Begin training early. Bring your first fresheners into the area where you
will be milking when they are young or at least a few months before they
are in milk. Use patience instead of force to get them up on the milk
In the past, I would take a goat by the collar and tail and force
them up on the stand. That was a lot of work and frustration for both
me and them. Now, I will take a bowl of feed and gradually coax them
onto the stand a little at a time, trying to increase their comfort
level each time. It doesn't hurt to use their tail to help them make
that final jump up onto the platform when they're almost there but are
still unsure. It will usually cause them to jump, then they find
themselves on the stand right at the feed bowl. After they calm
down a little and find out there is a reward of a meal for climbing
on this platform thing, they don't mind it so much. I talk to them a lot
during this process as a means of reassurance. Scratching their
shoulder blades doesn't hurt any either, they really like that.
your goat is used to the milk stand, you are ready for them to give birth. After the kids are born, start milking the doe within 24 hours. I find that my does will produce a very large
amount of milk during the first 48 hours after freshening. I will milk
them out almost completely about 12 hours after the babies are born.
One, it makes them more comfortable, and two, it makes
it easier for the
babies to nurse when the teats are not enlarged with so much milk. To
do this, I bring the does to the milk stand. Some of them are a little
anxious about leaving their babies in the birthing pen, but they are ready to have that extra milk removed. There have been occasions that a doe was just too anxious about leaving her babies. Then I bring the babies with her to the milk stand and work around them. It only takes a time or two, then the doe is comfortable with leaving the kids for a short time. I think this is a sign of a good mother, so it doesn't bother me at all. I don't keep this milk for human consumption since it is full of colostrum. This is kept in old peanut butter jars to be given to the dog, cats and chickens. Five days after kidding, I will begin keeping the milk for us.
first time I brought Copper in after she had given birth I expected her
to fuss and kick a little. She just stood there like I had been milking
her for years. I was amazed. Then I thought, this is just the honeymoon
period and she will put up a protest later on. She never did. She has
been the easiest goat to milk I have ever trained. I attribute this to
two things. One, she was very, very tame to begin with and I have been
handling her a lot since she was born. And two, she was a single that
had no other kids to play with for over a month when she was born, so she played with us. She has always been very trusting of us and very easy to handle.
of the things I train the does to do, that makes it easier for me to
milk, is to move their right leg out and back a little. It gives me more
room for the bucket and makes it easier to reach both sides of the udder
for cleaning and milking.
This is not the natural position they care to
stand in, but it is not uncomfortable either. It is more of the stance they
take when their kids are nursing. To get them to stand this way I used
to take hold of their ankle area and move their foot to the desired
Then they would move it back, then I would move it again, then
they would move it back, and so on. This got old and frustrating at
times. Now I gently push against the leg just above the joint to get them to move the leg back.
They usually hold their leg up for a
bit, then gradually let it down and it ends up where I want it
instead of where they want it. After a while, I can just nudge them on
the flank and they move the leg out of the way for me.
Many of the tricks learned during milking are specific to the animal. There are just small differences that come with each different personality. Basic techniques are used with all of my does, but they each have their own preferences as well. Take getting on the milk stand for instance. One Stripe will pause on the cement blocks and get her footing just right before she jumps on up, and she doesn't like to be hurried through this process.
Copper, on the other hand, avoids the block steps altogether and just launches herself up from the side of the stand, usually after walking in a circle.
Here Copper and Ivory are trading places. Each doe knows when it is their turn in line and will usually wait their turn. I always find that to be fascinating. When Ivory comes in, she will use the block steps and quickly jump right on the the stand. But if I don't walk in right behind her fast enough for her liking, she will turn around and come right back down the steps, turn around and come right back up again. Each has their own way of approaching the stand, but once they are there, the behavior is very similar.
Once a doe is on the stand, I walk by pat them on the flank or side, and talk to them. As I sit down to milk, I pat them on the underside of their stomach and talk to them. Even if I am not keeping the milk and only milking into a peanut butter jar, I will massage the udder a bit
to them know I am going to start milking, otherwise they jump a little. The best thing I can do for successful milking is to keep a routine. I don't always milk at the same time of day, which is a recommended practice. If I did, it would increase the does milk production. But I do usually perform the task of milking in a very routine manner, which seems to keep the does relaxed and agreeable.
I enjoy milking my goats and I think that adds to the atmosphere of this task. If I didn't enjoy it, there are many little things that I would probably find very frustrating and annoying. But I don't. Milking early in the morning is a very peaceful, relaxing chore for me. I get to spend time with my animals, observing their behavior to see if there are any needs we should address. I get to listen to the world wake up as the rooster starts to crow and the song birds sing to the morning. For many years I have considered the song of the birds to be a gift from God. He bathes us with these beautiful songs, telling us how much He loves us and gives us a gift of peace. Stop and enjoy them. Listen. Be still. You are blessed.
Until next time - Fern