8 Tips to Train Your Goat to Behave on the Milkstand

Training a problem doe to the milkstand is mostly a matter of attitude: your attitude! Here are tips to help you train your goat to be a milker.

Several years ago we bought our first two goats as weanlings. The next spring, I decided maybe I'd better get a goat that knew how to be milked, since I'd never milked an animal before. At least one of us should know what we're doing, right?

It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Chloe, the four-year-old Alpine doe I bought, taught me well. And when it came time to milk Dream, one of the original pair we'd bought, it was a one-goat rodeo. I was very thankful that I wasn't a total greenhorn.

But it was still frustrating trying to milk Dream. Really frustrating. Stick-a-hoof-in-the-milk-bucket frustrating. Every single day.

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First, she wouldn't get up on the milk stand. Oh, her front hooves would go up on the stand, but not her back feet. She could still stick her head in the feeder and reach the grain.

Moving the milk stand fixed that issue for the most part. I figured out that I needed to give her a clear path to walk straight towards the stand and up on it, rather than expecting her to make a U-turn when she walked in the milking stall.

So, that problem was easy to solve just by relocating the milk stand, but she would not stand still while I tried to milk. This girl could have tried out for the Radio City Rockettes; she definitely had the moves. While she didn't actually kick me she did stomp on me a few times, and we always ended with at least one hoof in the milk bucket... or an overturned and spilled milk bucket.

Then the barn cats and my two Great Pyrenees dogs, waiting with gleeful anticipation, jumped into the fray to clean it all up for me.

I tell you, I was completely frustrated. I thought many times of throwing in the towel and giving up. But I'm stubborn (just ask hubby).

I finally asked a friend for advice, and what follows is the gist of what she told me, tweaked a bit for my own situation and added to from my experiences.

While there wasn't a dramatic, instantaneous change in Dream, she and I did come to an understanding, and these tips contributed to our compromise.

For most does, once you have her trained she'll be a good milker every year. Dream on the other hand threw her one-goat-rodeo-fit every single spring, and I'd have to remind her again how to behave on the milk stand. After a week or so, she'd settle down again.

The cats and dogs loved it while it lasted.

Training a problem doe to the milkstand is mostly a matter of attitude: your attitude! Here are tips to help you teach your goat to be a milker.

How to Train a Goat to the Milkstand

1. Locate your milk stand so your goat has a clear path to walk straight to it and jump up.

2. If you are milking more than one goat, milk the troublesome doe last so you aren't frustrated while milking the "good" goats.

3. Assume that for the first week or ten days of milking, you are only going to give the milk to the dogs. It will keep you from being [too] upset when the goat sticks a hoof in the bucket, or dumps it all over the milk stand. And all over you. Really, it will.

4. Use a deep stainless steel stockpot to milk into, not a fancy milk bucket. It will be harder for the goat to stick her hoof in the tall stockpot.

5. Have a second stockpot or milk bucket. Pour the "good milk" into it every so often. When the doe sticks her hoof in the bucket, you might already have some in the second bucket that is clean. See? Today wasn't a total loss.

6. Attitude is important - your attitude. Assume that today the doe is going to be well-behaved. Relax. Be patient. (And don't let a bad attitude affect the other goats. See tip #2.)

7. Always do things in the same order, every day. You are in the business of training animals.

8. Get your doe used to being handled before she ever comes into milk. Of course this isn't always possible, but if you are raising your doe from a weanling or newborn, it will be easy to prepare her to be a milker long before she is one. (Unless her name is Dream.)

At a month old, Dream's daughter already knew that the milk stand meant treats!

7. Measure your goat's feed before bringing her to the milk stand. Have everything ready before you start. Lock up the barn cats or the puppies or anything else that will be distracting to her or to you.

How to train your goat to be a good milker.

8. If your goat is especially difficult, you can squeeze her leg just above the hock with one hand while you milk with the other. Squeezing this tendon will help keep her from kicking or stomping. Milking one-handed takes longer but this was the trick to teaching Dream to stand still. She couldn't move her hind leg while I was squeezing the tendon.

Here are the essentials I have on hand when milking my own goats. This list will get you off to a good start.

Are you having trouble with your goat herd rushing the milk stand and putting your life in peril? They know that's where the grain is! In desperation I changed my milking routine and it changed my homesteading life. Here are the three things I changed in my milking routine.
Maybe they'll change your life too!

Without my friend's advice I might have given up that first spring. I'm glad I persevered and that these tips helped me to train Dream to be a good milker. If you have a problem doe, give this a try. Here's hoping that these tips will help you to train a good milk goat too.

Are you looking for more goat information? Here are all of my goat posts, plus a set of free printable forms for your herd records.

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If your goat won't behave on the milk stand, you NEED these 8 tips! You can do it, here's how! #homestead #milkagoat

How to train your goat to behave on the milkstand.

How to train your goat to behave politely on the milkstand.

Related posts:
8 Things You Need to Milk a Goat
How Changing My Milking Routine Changed My Life

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  1. Thanks for this info! I have a 2 year old Mini Nubian that I purchased this summer. She just delivered kids and I CAN NOT get this doe to stop kicking, jumping, biting etc.! She is a nightmare! I always try to think that it will be better each evening....nope! It's been 4 days now. The kids are 8 days old. She produces so much that I have to milk her for them to latch on now. Any tips would be so helpful! I will try the leg holding. Hobbled don't seem to work. She just flops on her side!

    1. Most often, a goat that acts like this is just trying to keep you from "stealing" her babies' milk... but as we get more and more frustrated it's hard to be patient and understanding.

      Try holding her leg above the hock as I wrote in the post, squeezing her leg as tightly as needed. Although it's hard to milk one-handed, this is the method that worked best for me. More than a few times I've given up trying to get milk in the bucket and just milked, no matter where it went. It's unpleasant to sit in a puddle of milk, but there were too many things to think about and try to do at one time, and that's what it took.

      Seriously, give it another week before you expect her to behave or even begin to behave. Believe me, she will come around eventually. For now, tell yourself you're milking her so those babies can latch on... and that's the only reason.

  2. Great advice! My Willow is my 'spark plug', and as close as we are, she is just a brat on the milk stand! I ended up tying one leg to the milk stand (in an up position). It's not comfortable for her, I'm sure, but she's naughty and won't be tamed. She's gotten used to the routine after two years. I hope my Naomi is better!

    1. Dream was the same way. We were close, and she was well-behaved in every other way, but not on the milkstand! Every year when we started milking again I had to go through this with her. She'd eventually calm down... until the next time she kidded and it was time to milk again. Good luck, I hope Naomi is better!

  3. Excellent, real life advice! Thanks for sharing this with us at the Homestead Blog Hop, your post has been chosen as one of our features this week! Please come back again soon!

  4. Goodness!
    A goat rodeo indeed !

    I wouldn’t know where to begin trying to make a goat behave. Thank you for putting this together so others can learn.

    Thanks again for coming by the Homestead Blog Hop!


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