2021 was our first exposure to dairy animals. Not just the goats, but every aspect of dairy. We brought in proven does. Now many would assume that means proven milkers; and it can, but alas, we could not find that level of proven doe within our budget. What I was able to find was a proven mother. A goat who has proven her ability at birthing and raising kids successfully. We brought her home from a petting zoo, which meant we had two dairy virgins: Helga and myself. This is my stand training experience.
First thing is getting them to the milk stand. Goats are creatures of habit and enjoy a routine. So, pick your milking time and don’t stray from it, especially while training. As I mentioned my goats came from a petting zoo, so while they were accustomed to people, being pet was all they tolerated. Getting collars on was tricky. Some girls have horns so collars can be a hazard, so we only use them for leading. Id either corner them in their stall or have the collar around the treat bucket and once they stuck their nose in, SWISH! The first few trips to the stand will be a mix of pushing, dragging and chasing. Worry not, in a few days they’ll be running to the stand unassisted because they know that’s where the treats are. AS LONG AS YOU’RE CONSISTENT.
Next, getting on the milk stand. Goats have a fantastic reputation for jumping, but not when you want them to. It’ll be easier for all involved to have a ramp or steps leading up to the milk stand. Even then, you may still have to do some heavy lifting. Lead with treats but be ready to man handle; this was where having a smaller breed came in handy.
Goats don’t need grain, just like children don’t need candy. That’s what grain is to them, candy. It’s also why it makes a great milk stand treat. Something special they only get on the stand. We use a mix of corn, barley, oats, and black oil sunflower seeds.
Final step is the actual milking. This is where consistency is the most important. Keep them on the stand until they are completely milked out. No matter how much they tap dance, or how many times they spill the milk bucket. If you don’t, they will remember and cause the same ruckus for even longer thinking it’ll get them out of milking. It helps to practice and get them used to you touching their udder before they kid or while they’re young. Some folks “hobble” or tie the goats back legs so they can’t do so much kicking. Within a week Helga realized I could finish milking much faster is she didn’t put up a fight, so I felt no need to tie her.
I love Helga, but she’s a fat ass. She scarfs down her treats in like a minute flat! As a virgin milker it took me fifteen minutes to milk her all the way out. Using a long narrow container (the feed scoop) fixed this. She could barely fit her face in, so instead of shoveling food into her mouth she had to lap it up like water.
Long story short: consistency. Just know that some goats are not meant to be milkers. We worked with our other doe Shauna for well over a month with NO improvement. it happens, but we want dairy animals, so we sent Shauna and her buckling to a new farm. Luckily Helga gave birth to a doeling, so she will be our next milker.
It’s tough those first couple weeks but stick with it. Consistency really is key. Happy milking!