Kicky milkers

Our first goats were far from trained milkers. Patience is most often the key to training a doe to the stand, but some people find hobbles come in handy.

I wrote this many years ago for another blog. I thought this post on hobbles may be of help as milking season quickly approaches =).

hobble

If you can sew, you can save money, milk and tears =)!

     Hubby and I made this goat hobble as a joint effort. He welded up the metal rings, though you could use some chain used to hang lamps or plants from the ceiling (oval), just make sure it’s strong. We had a ratchet strap break and he saved the strapping. It came in handy for this project!

Unfortunately, hobbles did not work well for us. We couldn’t get the does to stand still long enough to get the hobbles on. Several would have a fit in the milk stand bucking and throwing themselves off the stand or laying down. I resorted to some alternative milking methods until I can get them calmed down enough to stand nicely and by that time, hobbles weren’t necessary. As a side note, one of the easiest methods for me was to prop the entire back end of a doe up on left leg, hold their left leg just above the hoof with my left hand as it rested on my left thigh, bend over and milk blindly one handed into a bucket. It took a while, but for the does that like to lay down or fling themselves off the stand, this was about the only way to guarantee their safety and my own. With both of their hooves off the stand and one leg secure on my thigh, it wasn’t likely they were apt to be able to go anywhere. Occasionally, now, I’ll get those novice milkers who are just a little sensitive and all it takes is holding the leg closest to me up  in the air a little for a period of time until they figure out that milking isn’t anything more than a thing =). However, if you’ve got a milker who just likes to kick, these would probably work well for you!

You can purchase these online from a few places, Caprine Supply carries them along with PBS Livestock.

hobble

These measurements are for a full size goat. I started with a piece of 1″  wide nylon strapping that was about 8-9 inches long (seen above, center left of photo), run through the ring, ends brought to the middle and sewn securely. You end up with the middle section about 3-4 inches in length once sewn. You’ll want material sturdy and non-stretchy for this: belt material, etc. We had a 1″ ratchet strap in which the ratchet part broke so the strap was “trash”. I re-purposed it and it works great!

For the longer straps that go around the legs, these pieces are about 6-7 inches long. Insert them through the ring, double the strap back to itself and sew from one side to the other several times. Be sure you sew over this several times so that it is VERY secure. One stitch probably will not be enough.

The two pieces of velcro closer to the rings are in 2 pieces because I mis-measured where the scratchy part would fall when on the goat and it did not give a tight enough fit on the 2nd piece further away from the metal ring. I ended up having to sew another piece of the loop on closer to the ring. Give yourself a good 4 inch piece of loop (soft part) and sew it fairly close to your metal ring.  You want a snug fit of the straps on the goat above the hocks (rear “knee”) to pinch the ligament. Pinching the ligament prevents them from bending at the knee. It does not, however, prevent them from rotating at the hip. Be prepared for full leg swings with movement at the hip. You can also place them above the rear dewclaws however this still allows movement at the knee and hip.

For the velcro: I used Touchtape brand hook and loop velcro because that’s what I have on hand from diaper making. The hook (scratchy part) is 2  1/2 inches long and 1 wide. I let the hook part (scratchy part) of the velcro hang off the ends of the straps a bit (photo above, center right). I found when the hobble was on, it curled up at the edge giving me a little tab that was easily to grab hold of and undo instead of having to pick at it to get a corner up.

If I need hobbles for a fidgety milker, I normally just use bailing twine (the plastic kind) doubled over and then looped around the back hock, fairly snug then wrap it around the back leg of the milk stand a couple times and step on it or run my toe of my shoe through the loop. This is so much quicker for me than trying to put on hobbles and generally securing one leg is sufficient for me.

I suppose with an eternal kicky milk, hobbles may come in handy but for those that are new to the milk stand, the hobbles tend to throw them into a frantic scared fit and the hobbles contribute to more harm than good…sometimes they get so scared by having their legs tied together, it becomes an emergency to get hobbles off before they hurt themselves or you. The bailing twine is quick to release and generally only requires the securing of one leg which psychologically makes the doe feel safer too. I end up with fewer issues this way.

Bring lots of patience to the table when dealing with new milkers. As I’ve written in posts past, it’s a lot easier to train them to the stand before they freshen, than to try to get them accustomed after.  However, if it is your only option and you have the time to take it slow, do so. If not, chances are there may be some spilled milk but they normally always come around in time =).

hobble

hobble

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