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!








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