A couple of years ago was Myrtle's first freshening. When we purchased her she had a couple of 4 month old doelings still nursing her. They kept one of the little does and we brought Myrtle and her little doe, Heather, home. I weaned the little doe as soon as we got home and decided to milk Myrtle with the rest of the milking does. This was when I was hand milking 6 does during the summer of 2008.
Myrtle had other plans. You see, she had never been milked before! And, she didn't plan on starting now!
Myrtle (before the horns came off)
She got up on the milk stand fine because there was grain on the back side of the head lock. She stood fine on the milking stand. But, as soon as I touched her udder ... she jumped and kicked so bad that there was no way to even get the milk pail under her. But, she had to be milked out so I tried every way I could think of to get her milked. I finally leaned across her and milked her out onto the milk stand by reaching around and under the other side of her. I was pretty beat up by the time I got her milked! This only lasted a few days until I decided to dry her off and try again when she freshened the next spring.
The spring of 2009 when Myrtle freshened, she milked much better. She still danced sometimes, but at least I could milk her into the bucket! This season, she milks perfectly.
Then there was Maggie ... She either sat down or even laid down when I tried to milk her when she freshened in the spring of 2009. We had the milking parlor ready and I was milking by machine at this time. She would not get up no matter how much I lifted her and poked at her to get her up. So, I put the milkers on her while she was laying down. She gave me the funniest look when I did that!
Eventually, she decided that since I wasn't going to beat her (I think she had been beat on the farm she came from.) and I was going to calmly milk her while she laid down ... that she would just stand for the milking. I still have to be very gentle and let her know that I'm not going to hurt her when I milk her, but she willingly gives her milk now.
In the spring of 2009 ... when the young does that I had raised from birth started freshening for the first time ... we had a real rodeo when I was training them to milk in the milking parlor. Most of them milked okay by hand the first few days, but it was eventually time to milk them by machine.
I learned that if I held their back leg tightly just above the hock that it presses the tendon and they can't kick. It usually only took a couple of days of holding their leg for them to understand that milking wasn't so bad and they calmed down completely.
Then this season there is Pearl..... She was injured last spring by an aggressive doe and she delivered her baby premature. So she didn't have the opportunity to be in milk last season. So, she is a 2 year old first freshener this spring.
She is one of the bottle kids I raised from birth in 2008. She is one of the sweetest, most loving, always in your pocket, always giving kisses, biggest pet out in the goat yards.
But, when it came time to milk her, she absolutely refused to stand still. She never kicked at me, but, she jumped and danced so much that I couldn't get a milker on her and her teats are so small that it was impossible to milk her by hand!
I held her leg above the hock joint like I had the difficult ones last spring in order to get the milker on her. I had to hold a leg with one hand and hold the milker on one side... and then switch to hold the other leg and hold the milker on the other side to get her milked. She gives LOTS of milk ... so this took a lot of time each milking. By the time I had her milked, I was exhausted !
I thought she would calm down in a couple of days of milking her this way and milk calmly like the other does. But NO! This went on day after day! I had to think of a better way to get her milked. So, I came up with a hobble system that was gentle on her legs and strong enough to hold her still.
I had some Velcro strips that are used as leg bands for cows. I pulled out 3 of these ... put one snugly around each of her legs just above the hock and then looped one between the straps on her legs. This worked wonderfully! She only hopped a couple of times.... but only a little hop.
The Velcro straps are about 12 inches long and about an inch and a half wide. They fasten on themselves when wrapped around her leg. This was SO much easier than squeezing her leg tendon to keep her from kicking and trying to get the milker on her at the same time!
It only took a couple of days of using the Velcro hobbles to help Pearl understand that I was not going to give up and that she would be milked! She now stands calmly for milking. I am SO thankful!
I know some of you have your own stories to tell about milking a difficult doe. I'd love to hear about your experiences and solutions you came up with to get them milked. Please feel free to write about your experiences in the comments.