Newby question: how do I "break in" my goat?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Granolamom, Feb 26, 2009.

  1. Granolamom

    Granolamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, so we have this very sweet Pygmy/Alpine (we think...) momma and her 4-month old twins now, and just looking at her full udder makes me want to have a go at her milk REALLY bad!
    She has never been milked before (and I have never milked a goat!), and she's a bit on the shy side (she was not handled a lot by her previous owner). She'll eat treats out of my hand, and comes to me when I enter the goat yard, but she does not like to be petted otherwise.
    How do I go about even attempting to milk her? And before that, how do I get her to let me check out her hoofes (to my knowledge they've not been trimmed ever, and she's about 2 years old!!!).
    Do I try to gain her trust over the course of several weeks or even months, or do I simply manhandle her (she's not afraid of me now), and force her to get used to being touched?
    I was told that goats need to be "broken in", kind of like horses, but I don't want to make the mistake of breaking her trust, and her totally freaking out. We've had her and her kids for a week now.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Sherry

    Sherry Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would take it a bit slow. If she'll takes treats out of your hand you can condition her to be petted by holding your empty hand out farther than the one with the treat so she has to come past the empty hand. When she's eating the treat you can pet her with the other hand. Make sense? It's how I did my pygmies.

    As for the milking part, sorry but I'm clueless. [​IMG]
     
  3. Sherry

    Sherry Chillin' With My Peeps

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    BTW she's a very pretty girl.
     
  4. Skyesrocket

    Skyesrocket Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 20, 2008
    I think I would start by spending another week with her. Go into her pen and hand feed her. Just spend sometime in the pen doing nothing with her too. So she can get used to you being around.
    Then, if she starts warming up to you, you might want to put a collar on her. Let her get used to that. But be careful with that because goats do get hung up on their collars. Give her a couple of hours with the collar on. Go back into the pen and hand feed her. Hold the collar and pet her some. Leave her.
    Do this several times over the next couple of days. Depending on how she reacts to being held by the collar. If she seems ok with it, you can move along faster. If she bucks and acts like a goof then go slower.
    Next put her on a lead. See how she does with that. Hopefully she will just stand there. If not, don't stress her too much. Pet her and talk to her...again offering a treat. See if you can get her settled down. If you aren't familar with goats, you might be suprised by how strong she is.
    Also I noticed she has horns. You need to watch 2 things. Don't stand with your head over her head. She could jump up and smack you in the face with them.
    And don't reach inbetween the horns. She could pull her head back and catch your wrist in between them.
    You need to judge how stressed she gets with you handling her and proceed with that in mind.
    Once she is comfortable around you then try milking her. It would be a lot easier if you could get some experience on a goat used to being milked. Know anyone with a milking goat?
    I would have someone there to help you. If you don't have a milking stand try to find something secure for her to stand on. Maybe a feedbox or big horse tack box? Tie her to something secure and have the other person stand by her shoulder. Tie her close so she doesn't have much slack to move around. The person might have to hold her hip against a fence or wall. She might keep swinging her hip out and turning back and forth.
    Put some food down in front of her. Then milk her some. I wouldn't plan on getting too much the first few times. Don't get frustrated or angry. If you do walk away and calm down.
    Does she let you near her babies? Let us know how that works and we can offer other suggestions along the way. There is more than one way to milk a goat! [​IMG]
     
  5. Granolamom

    Granolamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Yes, she does let me near her babies, she's totally fine with that. The little wether is a total hambone, he already loves us to pet him and scratch him from head to toe, and he climbs all over my son. The little girl is more like her mom - a bit skiddish, but slowly coming around, too.
    I was hoping for somebody to say to take it slow, because I can't really see myself trying to "overpower" her, which was recommended to me. My kids and I spend tons of time in the goat pen, all day long, and I think trying to gain her trust is definitley the way to go with her. Today we put collars on the little boy, as well as the mom (the baby girl managed to slip away from us each and every time...). Momma bucked for a second, and then just went about her business, as if she didn't even notice the collar was there. So far, so good. Thanks for all the great advise!
     
  6. Granolamom

    Granolamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh, and by the way, I do know someone with milking goats! I will get in touch with her in the next few days, and ask if she'll let me try my (non-existing) skills on one of her does.
    Thanks for the compliments about our girl (we've named her "Aisa"). I think she's beautiful, too, whatever kind of mutt she may be...[​IMG].
     
  7. PotterWatch

    PotterWatch My Patronus is a Chicken

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    Having a milk stand has been a big plus for me and our skittish girl. She has to get on the milk stand to get her grain. We started by leaving the head stall open just to get her used to standing there. After several days of leaving the headstall open, I closed it while she was eating. She freaked out a little, but I just dumped a little more grain in the pan and she forgot about the head stall being closed. After a couple days of that, I started petting her as she was eating with the head stall closed, scratching her back and just petting.

    I am not milking her since she hasn't kidded yet, but I am now using the time she stands on the milk stand to pet her, feel her ligaments, and get her used to my touching her udder. After she got used to being petted while on the milk stand, she started allowing us to pet her when she was not on the stand as well. She used to run away if you even raised your hand anywhere near her, but now we can pet her, scratch her neck, etc., just about the same as our other doe who is totally tame. I hope you have the same success with yours!
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2009
  8. mekasmom

    mekasmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A milking stand makes it easier, but you can milk her anywhere. You just have to get a leash on her and have someone hold her or tie her next to a wall. You hold the goat next to the wall with your shoulder, reach through, milk into a cup. It's much easier to use a plastic cup or glass held with your left hand while you milk with your right. If you try to use a bucket on a new milker, it will get kicked over.
    It's literally just brute force holding them against a wall while they are held at the head, so they cannot get away to the side or back out. Giving them as much grain as they will eat while you milk helps a lot.
    The first few times it may take you ten minutes on each side to milk, but after a week or so you will be able to milk her out in less than five minutes total. I milk four times a day to increase production, but some people only milk twice. Since this is a first time milker, I would just milk rather than trying to wash, dry, massage, milk, dip. Use the milk for your dogs or something until you get the goat use to being milked and standing longer. You want to teach her to be milked, so you want it done quickly for the first week or two. After she learns to stand still, you can start to do the whole process and save the milk for yourself.

    She's a nice goat. Alpines are my favorite. With the pygmy cross for a kinder, you have a wonderful year round breeder with a decent amount of milk. I have some alpines in milk right now that I hope to cross with pygmies, so they will breed year round.
     
  9. bargain

    bargain Love God, Hubby & farm Premium Member

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    Hello, I think I can help here. Time and time and time is needed with her. I tried to milk some adult goats before that had never been milked and that was a real challenge. It's not in their history.

    I believe it can be done. It took the 2 of us to milk them. I would try lots and lots more love on this.....Does she like to have her head rubbed.....just rubb that head a long time. Get it to where she's coming to you. Where she will basically follow you if possible before milking.

    I really like milking stands.....Even our milkers with us for a while like the security of them ---they were trained on milking stands by their previous owner. I have found that my girls like to be brushed....Yes with the soft side of a dogs brush.....I use this to calm them down during stress.....

    Now if you think that she is at risk for problems because of a large sack or something. Get another adult to help you move her so you can feel the sack.

    Ties are made and sold by the Goat companies for hind legs, but we have never used them. If it's a situation where you must milk her for her health or babies, then order one. I have heard they will resist them and once they get "bulled up" against you as I imagine they would with being tied, I would thing it would be more difficult for future attempt. I suspect it's not your milking skills but her history of not being milked. Let me know if you need more help.

    Also when you do milk, be sure to wipe teats before and us that spray - cool down spray afterwards to prevent mastitis. Let me know if I can help you more.
     
  10. bargain

    bargain Love God, Hubby & farm Premium Member

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    Also calming for the goats is a back massage along the spine - gently. Also, are the babies currently nursing? This may be the time that's she's trying to wean them off and there may be very little milk. Hopefully that's not it as I know you wanted goat milk. Have a blessed day. It's chore time on the farm!
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2009

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