Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Milking Stanchion

If you're going to have a milk goat, you probably will need a milking stanchion, which is really just a fancy French word for an upright bar or post forming a support or barrier. Most of us think of it as a milking stand. The idea is the animal gets up on the stand and puts their head through the two upright bars, which are then closed around the neck to prevent the animal from leaving the area. It also keeps them from moving around too much (but unfortunately, it doesn't prevent kicking if the animal is so prone).

If properly trained, an animal will actually like the milking stanchion because it is a pleasant experience. Most, including mine, get a little treat to eat while they stand on the stanchion and get milked or have their hoofs trimmed or whatever is necessary to perform. (Dance Hall is so sweet, she would just stand anyway, and I've actually done this several times with her while we built our milk stanchion). In the long run, it is safer for the animal and for you.

You can buy a metal stanchion from $200 and upwards, but shipping to most areas will price it out of most people's budget. While wood may not last quite as long, most hold up for years and years before succumbing to wear and tear. I needed a frugal option and after searching on line, I found some plans I liked at Fias Co Farms. Of course, my wood worker husband insisted he could improve on them, and that he did! (Thank you, Molly, for your original plans. They were wonderful even like they are and very helpful!).

The neat thing about my stand is that my husband made it with reclaimed wood! The only thing that cost me any money on this project was the rubber mat that I added. And he put it together in a jiffy, which was good because I really needed it!

You can compare the photos of mine with Molly Nolte's at Fias Co Farms in order to see the changes we made, but it was mostly just a change using one long upright board for the front legs of the stand and on to the neck brace area. He felt this would make it more stable and secure. He sandwiched the brace between two cross members, routing all edges so they wouldn't be sharp or rough (aint' that great!).

In the picture below, you can see the back cross member is thinner looking. That's actually because he notched it.

He added an extra leg for more support underneath. My husband's like that... extra careful. He learned it from his dad.

So once the stand was built, we realized it was way to big for a Nigerian! (Duh... should have known that would have been the case, right?) But I am glad we made it for a regular sized goat because I'm not sure I'll always have Nigerians. We decided a "booster seat" of sorts was in order, along with a little ramp (because although goats are climbers and jumpers, they don't seem to want to do it when I need them to).

Here you can see a combination ramp/milking stool. I milk my Nigerian from behind because it's easier with such small teats. I just pull it back from the milking stanchion a bit and I can easily sit on that little platform. Or if I want to milk from the side, I just move it along side the stand.

Finally, we needed to raise the height of the platform so Dance Hall (the Nigerian) could get her her head through the upright opening. So we made a removable platform specifically for the smaller goats and added more rubber mat material that can be removed and cleaned. It really helps them from slipping around. We had to measure their heads and adjust the size of the neck opening, but if we have larger goats, we can make a small adjustment by adding an extra eye hook or a chain. 

Since I took these pictures, I've added a little feeder on the front for a treat. Milking is going well now and I've started training our Kinder goat, Fiona Bleu, so that she'll be ready when and if she kids. (We took her to be bred this month, but we won't know if she's pregnant until the middle of next month. I'm hoping it took!)  

I've learned a lot in the last month concerning goats... how to do a blood draw, breeding basics, milking, natural udder care... my mind is a whirl with thoughts. Hopefully, I'll get them all out in posts soon for those who are interested. 

Can I just say how wonderful it is to have fresh raw milk again! Truly a blessing!


  1. What a great job. I am hoping to get a dairy goat in the spring and so appreciate any info you share.
    I love your blog. I learn so much here.
    Blessings Trace

  2. That looks awesome Amy! I just did a very similar post a week ago about the milk stand I built (almost) entirely by myself using Fias Co Farm's plans. Aren't they wonderful?? You took beautiful pictures of all the bits and pieces!

  3. We built the same stand and made almost the exact same changes (not the ramp or extra platform) and even used recycled wood to make it. I was so impressed with the one my husband built and can't wait to get to use it in March after our Nubians Billy Jean and Sara give birth. Next year we will have 5 ladies to milk as last years kids were ALL girls! We had a very late kidding season last year and those girls won't be a year old till May so no kidding for them till next year. And just so you don't think I was mean and bred my momma's to early, ket me tell you... LOL I own my male, whom I love very much... well he was in another area about 250 feet away from the girls and when they went a calling for him... he broke the fence down, ran around another fence and we find them...together. So they bred themselves this year ;-) They've just got lots of extra care and nutrition because it was only 5 months after they kidded. Sorry for rambling... but I love my goats :D

  4. Do you milk by hand or do you have a pump? I started out milking by hand but when I saw the hair and debris that fell into the milk even after cleaning her udders, I could drink the milk after it was filtered. So we looked for a pump and found the Henry Milker. It's perfect. I don't have to worry about hair and dirt and I pump the milk directly into a canning jar, screw on a clean lid, and put it in the fridge! I thought I would share in case you might be interested.

  5. I know nothing of stanchions - just seen a few, but this one looks like the "bee's knees" of stanchions - your hubby did a great job of building this for yours AND the goats' comfort and usability! Now be sure a take pictures of you and your goat milking!

  6. Now that is a beautiful milk stand!

  7. Your husband built it to look like a work of art! I'm very interesting in milking, although I think my family would prefer cow's milk dairy products. However, I definitely want to have pet goats for my "kids" so I have a feeling I'll be a great receptacle for all the little wethers that are born to dairy breeders. Your blog is lovely! So much to learn here and presented so beautifully. :)

  8. I'm always impressed by your husband's woodworking skills, nice job! Very wise also to make it for a big goat with modifications for smaller ones...never know what the future holds for you in goats, so you'll be thankful that you don't have to build a new stand if you end up with a larger goat at some point.

  9. Your husband is a real craftsman, I will definitely have to share this with Daniel :)

    Have a great week!

  10. Love the detail of your goat posts, and that is one fine-looking milking stand! I'll have plenty of reference if and when we ever get goats. {sigh} Was your husband always on board with the homestead thing?

    1. He supports me by building things I need (which he apprenticed in years ago and is still his favorite hobby) and he likes to garden some, but the girls and I do all the chicken and goat stuff ourselves. And he likes the benefits in terms of farm fresh eggs, raw milk, etc. But because he's a pastor and so busy, his passion is obviously in fulfilling the calling God has given him, but I'd say the homesteading passion is more my thing with him saying it's good. I did have to do some good sales talk at first to get the goats, but I waited an extra year (for various reasons) which gave him some time to REALLY be sold on it and I'm glad I did. He would not have probably done it or even suggested it though. Just remember... baby steps. We've been at this a while and I'm just now getting goats!

  11. Wow!! I'm going to have to pin this for future reference. I'm the woodworker, my husband openly admits it's not his thing... but I want to get a class under my belt before attempting this. Looks great!

  12. Hello Amy,
    That is the prettiest milking stanchion ever. It looks like your hubby even smoothed out the rough edges of the wood. Yours are going to be the happiest, pampered little goats on the hill. Have a great week and thanks for sharing such an inspiring construct.

  13. Wow! My husband & I were so excited to see this milking stand. I can hardly wait to try our hand at building one too. You're such a blessing to share your knowledge. Thank you. Delinda Lea


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