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Goat lays down during milking

 
Lauren Dixon
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Location: Kalispell, Montana
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I recently purchased a 3 year old Nubian who is a great producer with wonderfully sweet milk. However, she is very difficult to milk! I have milked before, but this is my first goat, and I am at a loss about what to do to solve this problem. The first two days we didn't have a stanchion, so we tied her to the fence and squished her up against it for milking. It took three people about an hour to get her milked that way! We were assured that once we had a stanchion, everything would become easier. Not so! We drove 150 miles to pick up our stanchion, got home, and discovered that the problems persist. This goat will kick...she will lay down...she will holler and scream like we're killing her. She's kicked me HARD. She's put her foot in the milk pail. She does everything she can do to impede my progress. Is there any way to fix this, or do I need to rid myself of this goat?
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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If you have two (or more) people that are strong enough, you can hold her back legs in proper position until she trains.

You can also add velcro straps for her legs to the stanchion if you are solo (like in this video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIQadztu3IA&feature=plcp

We have had some goats that were REALLY picky about their food during milking--they wanted their sweet treat or you wouldn't get yours!

Some just don't like different milker styles--they don't deal with change in general. Once they get comfortable with the new routine it may settle down.

If the milk tastes good it is worth doing all you can to get it to work for you.
 
            
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She must be a nubian.
 
            
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Nubians are the most stubborn goats. My nubian did the same thing. I held her up and would use my body to pin her against the wall. Not very nice but got the job done she now stands there like a good girl.
 
Katy Whitby-last
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Location: North East Scotland
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Goats are very sensitive and intelligent animals and I expect she is very stressed by the changes in her routine and also having 3 people squish her. She needs to feel relaxed and calm in order for you to milk her successfully.

Clicker training works very well with lots of different animals. You need to get her happy just to stand on the stanchion without you doing ANYTHING to her before you are going to get trouble free milking.

Start off with something like a piece of pipe, a clicker and some very tasty treats. Stand back from her and hold out the pipe. as soon as she puts her nose towards it, click then give the treat. You are training her to associate the click with the treat and to show her that is what you want to do. Always click first and try to keep the treat in a pocket where she can't just get to them - something small is best - maybe raisins. Once she has worked out what you want she will start putting her nose on the pipe all of the time You then move on to the behaviour you want to encourage. you need to break it down into very simple stages - don't go for the end game at the start. Also you need to work in short sessions and give her a break so that she has time to process it. I would maybe start with putting the pipe on the stanchion to see if she will get on by herself and then click and reward. You need to be really fast with the clicking to show her the desired behaviour. The reward can be a bit slower. If she won't get up on the stanchion then if she starts to move towards it you click and reward that. Once she is happily getting up on the stanchion just cuddle her and then let her get off and don't do anything else for a while. Once you want to milk her on there let her get up and then sing to her - I doesn't matter if you're a rubbish singer it will help her to relax because the singing will force you to relax and she won't be picking up on your stress. Just put your hands on her udder to cup it and click and treat - you will need and assistant at this stage. Once that works progress to massaging her udder. Then on to actual milking. you may need to back a few stages at some points but always remember this is an intelligent animal that needs to be treated with respect as soon as you start to apply force you will be on the losing end of the battle.

The other thing that you really need to do it to get someone to check your milking technique. If you are compressing udder tissue when you are milking that will be painful and she will object. Also if you aren't getting a proper seal on the top of the teat and milk is being forced back into the udder that is also very uncomfortable for them.

Good luck and if you need any more info just ask
 
Lauren Dixon
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Location: Kalispell, Montana
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I like the idea of clicker training the goats! Funny! I may give it a try, or something similar. I didn't realize you could train a goat that way, though I don't doubt their intelligence.

Yes, she is a Nubian. And yes, I found out today that when she is calm and relaxed, the milking goes much easier. I had the gentleman who I purchased this goat from come by this morning to help me troubleshoot. As soon as she tried laying down in the stanchion, he simply got up and walked away from her. Immediately she began hollering at him to come back. He came back, started milking, and she laid down again. So, he walked away again. She started hollering. By the third time, she decided that she didn't want to lay down and get ignored, so she stood there nicely and allowed him to milk her out. Easy as pie. I was amazed. He told me that we just shouldn't give her any attention when she's acting up, not even negative attention like squishing her and picking her up. Just walk away until she decides to behave. Worked like a charm. He plans to keep coming around for milking time until we've got this straightened out.

 
greg patrick
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Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
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Sounds suspiciously like my own Nubian experience (we have two). Kicking an screaming for the first two months, then they're perfect (mostly) and are my best friend. My girls were both HORRIBLE when we got them. Even tying their legs was marginally helpful; They'd both just lie down or else flop over into my lap. Now when I open their pen, they walk to the fence, let me tie them, as soon as I do the ground squeezes they start to cud. When we're done and I let them go they stick around and nuzzle. No drama.

How are you and your girl doing these days?
 
Lauren Dixon
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My Nubian and I are getting along famously these days. After two weeks of horrible fights, bleating, kicking, laying down, etc, I called all of the goat people I know, and the advice seemed unanimous; beat the tar out of her when she acts up. Well, I couldn't bring myself to resort to that (take a broom stick to her?! Really?!).

I broke down and contacted her previous owner, who graciously came and milked her twice a day for about a week, coaching me through what tone of voice to use and how to handle her udder. After this, I was able to just open the gate, let her load herself on the stanchion, and sit down to a nice calm milking session. No trouble since! When I open the corral gate, she rushes out, leaps on the stanchion, and waits. And, the milk is the best I've ever tasted! So worth the trouble.

Then, I bought a Saanen, and hoooo boy! Whole different story! I got the Saanen home, and geared up for a two week milking fight. I had my crew waiting in the wings with ropes, hobbles, extra feed, mozart music, cattle prods, shotguns, bear traps (no, not really, but you get the point). I was pretty sure it would be another two weeks of hell. I put her on the stanchion, wiped the nervous sweat off my brow, said a prayer, rolled up my sleeves, aaannndddd....milked her....no problem. Gotta love the Saanens.
 
greg patrick
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So glad it's working for you! Our Saanan thinks she's human. She doesn't identify with the other goats as much as with my girls.
spoiled goat 0912121155a.jpg
[Thumbnail for spoiled goat 0912121155a.jpg]
 
Alison Thomas
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Lauren Dixon wrote:I had the gentleman who I purchased this goat from come by this morning to help me troubleshoot. As soon as she tried laying down in the stanchion, he simply got up and walked away from her. Immediately she began hollering at him to come back. He came back, started milking, and she laid down again. So, he walked away again. She started hollering. By the third time, she decided that she didn't want to lay down and get ignored, so she stood there nicely and allowed him to milk her out. Easy as pie. I was amazed. He told me that we just shouldn't give her any attention when she's acting up, not even negative attention like squishing her and picking her up. Just walk away until she decides to behave. Worked like a charm. He plans to keep coming around for milking time until we've got this straightened out.


What a nice man he seems to be If only every goat purchase came with such love and care from the previous owner! I'm glad it worked out for you and well done for persevering. It's great when it all works like a dream isn't it (mine isn't a dream *every* day mind you - some days she tries my patience just to remind me that we're on equal terms )
 
Dee Ann Reed
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Having bought a lot of goats, and milked a lot of them here is my advice: 1) First of all, are you feeding her grain while you milk her? You need to. 2) I recommend laying a wire ore bristly brush across the top of the milk pail, and she'll try the laying down thing a few times, and then she'll stop that. As for kicking, sometimes I have had to milk holding a leg in one hand, and milking with the other for awhile. A better option is to nail some short boards to the stanchion, and tie her legs for a couple days. Within a few days, she'll just stop all that. I've never had a goat that didn't calm down after a couple of days.

Little Bit Farm
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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What a nice story! I am so impressed that the previous owner was concerned enough about her to come out and get you both accustomed to each other in such a patient and caring way.

 
Alison Thomas
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Dee Ann Reed wrote: I recommend laying a wire ore bristly brush across the top of the milk pail, and she'll try the laying down thing a few times, and then she'll stop that. As for kicking, sometimes I have had to milk holding a leg in one hand, and milking with the other for awhile. A better option is to nail some short boards to the stanchion, and tie her legs for a couple days.
Little Bit Farm


Little Bit Farm, to me this seems a little harsh. Plus the OP has told us that they've had success with a softer approach. Maybe Kate's words sum it up best...

Katy Whitby-last wrote: you may need to back a few stages at some points but always remember this is an intelligent animal that needs to be treated with respect as soon as you start to apply force you will be on the losing end of the battle.

 
Paula Edwards
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I have no experience with goats. With my sheep I feed her grain hard bread and some leftovers from the greengrocer while milking. If she misbehaves, what
she seldom does, I take the feed bucket out. I feed things which are difficult to eat like big chunks of pumpkin or a bigger piece of hard bread which keeps her entertained for a while. In the beginning I had a kid holding her feet.
 
Lorien Larsen
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I had the same problem with my goats. I built a stanchion (sp?) out of old shipping crates making sure to put a rail on three sides that came up to about the wither height. I then used an old horse girth with a clip on the ends to pretty much tie the middle of the goat to the rail. I used an over the fence feed bucket on the end of one of the railes to feed the goat being milked (and encourage them to jump up there on their own) it's work really good and after a few milkings I didn't even need to secure the goats with the girth. I used halters on the girls and used two ties at either end of the rail to keep their heads in place. Worked really good and was super cheap to make.
 
Melba Corbett
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Location: North Carolina
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I always handle my young doe kid's udders while they are growing up so they are used to being "milked" by the time they freshen. Most of them will stand and let me handle their udders when they grow up. I had one who would let me milk her in the field, even without grain in front of her, but when I put her on the stanchion, pitched a fit and kicked, bleated and tried to lay down on top of me. Who would have thought? It was just a change of routine. So now I let the young ones get on the stand, feed them a bit and handle their udders all the while. This works most of the time. I do secure small rope ties on the back corners of the milking stand and slip them over the fetlocks of their back legs. They are so used to this, they sometimes hold their legs out for me to tie them and untie them, but only after they get used to the routine. Then if something startles them, they don't accidentally step into the milk pail.

Once I had a big yearling doe really act up (I have Nubians) the first time I tried to milk her. She kept on and on, day after day and I did not always have someone to help me hold her. She jumped so much, she turned the milking stand over on top of me with her on it. I finally, in desperation, tied her to the wall with a girth strap off a horse saddle, (so she could not lay down, or turn the milking stand over), and had both back legs in the rope ties. After a few days, I no longer had to tie her up, she behaved like a perfect lady. She ended up being one of my best, easiest to handle milkers. Now all I have to do is call her, she jumps onto the milking stand, holds out back legs, one at the time, for me to tie them, and spreads her legs to allow easier access to her udder. She loves being milked. I think her biggest problem was that she has a very sensitive udder with soft skin and initially didn't like being touched, even though I was very gentle. I believe ultra sensitivity is the reason some does push their babies away when they first try to nurse, and recognizing that, just be patient with them and help them a little and all will be okay.
 
                          
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We use both the carrot and the stick. One milker responds very well to being slapped when she misbehaves, others have just fallen apart and gotten worse with the same treatment. Without exception, they have all responded differently... they're not clones.
 
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