June 21, 2014

Homemade Goat Hobble

Some goats do not like being milked. I'm sure it takes some getting used to, but not all goats settle down once they've had plenty of time to get used to it. They fight it every step of the way. Such has been the case with Lily and Zoey, both of whom are getting milked for the first time this year! Even after milk stand training (see Fern's post at Thoughts From Frank and Fern), they didn't want to be milked.

I priced hobbles, but don't have the cash at the moment to buy one. I did some online research and came up with one that uses something I already have, a dog leash.

Why isn't the head piece closed? Because she's so cooperative? Not! Being  1/2
Nigerian, she can easily pull her head out. I have her secured with a 2nd dog leash.

Credit for this idea goes to Rachel at the Butterfly Ball, although I did modify it. She put her goats' legs through the loop at the human end, but I didn't figure my girls would stand for having me do that. Instead I gently sneaked the leash around her legs and ran the long end through the hand loop. I snugged it up a bit and wrapped it a couple of times to secure it.


Proper placement is key! Most photos show it low, around the pasterns. This may keep a goat from wandering too far if foraging, but to prevent kicking, the hobble needs to be above the hocks (back leg "elbow"). Thanks to Molly at Fiasco Farm for that tidbit.

It's so nice to get milk without a foot in the bucket or having the bucket kicked over. Hopefully the girls will settle down soon and get used to joining Surprise in the milk goat ranks. In addition to making mozzarella, I'm ready to try my hand at a few more new cheeses.


Unknown said...

They say necessity is the mother of invention!

Cant say ive ever heard that goats are the most co-operative beasts. They tend to do what they want.

Have Fun!

Farmer Barb said...

If you need a custom job, keep an eye on thrift stores for shoulder bags with webbing. You can make loops out of the webbing to attach to the dog leash as long as you seal the cut ends of the webbing with a match. The melt keeps it from fraying. I imagine speed is the key when getting the loop on.

Looks great!

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

We had a goat once who didn't like being milked. I was determined to be "in charge" so I forfeited several days milk from her while I lent against her and carried on milking whatever she did. it took quite some time but eventually she gave up giving me a hard time and let me milk her ( mind you, I was always ready for a crafty kick of the bucket from here!)
I DO miss my milkers.

Frank and Fern said...

I have had some goats that are more difficult to milk than others, Leigh, but they do usually calm down. I agree with Frugal, keep at it until they realize that this is a way of life.

Copper, the first freshener in the link you provided, has decided to push a little and see what she can get away with. She, like all other goats I have trained, wants to decide when I should quit milking, but I just keep going until I am finished no matter what she does. I consider it to be a kind of adolescent milking behavior and treat it as such.

Thank you for the link, Leigh, I appreciate it.


Donna OShaughnessy said...

We owned and milked goats for years, but as our cow herd grew we sold the goats. After being kicked a couple times by some strong legged cows I can honestly say I miss the goat kicking! Nice wide dog leash looks very comfy.

Sandy Livesay said...


Instead of buying the tools if you can use something you already have to do the same job, I say stick with the leash you're using. You're saving money in the long run and as the goats get used to the leash, they will relax.

Enjoy making cheese!!!

Leigh said...

Lynda, that is very true about goats. Most animals, actually. They tend to do what they want! I've learned that "training" is mostly developing a routine that's convenient for me. :)

Barb, I can't quite picture what you're describing. I do have one of those shopping bags, however!

Gill, it's definitely a battle with some goats. Amazing that they think humans are so far down in the pecking order!

Fern, you're very welcome for the link. Goats are persnickety to say the least. Even, Surprise, my calm milker will give me a hard time if she's mad at me! We really had a battle over the birthing stall last year. She considered it her stall and was made because I let the others use it to have their kids!

Donna, no thanks to the cow kicks! I hope the leash is comfy, but I'm sure no one likes having their legs tied.

Sandy, well said! I have to say that Lily has pretty much calmed down after only a couple of days. Zoey realizes she can't kick, so she tries hopping instead. Makes for interesting milking but so far I've saved all the milk!

Mama Pea said...

I think you've done a fine job using the dog leash . . . and with so much with animals, it's getting them in a routine (don't we all like consistency?) and they should settle down. There will always be that unexpected foot in the milk pail caused by a fly bite or isolated ornery moment. It always seemed to happen to me when I really needed that milk!

P.S. She has a nice looking udder!

Harry Flashman said...

Improvisation is a good thing. There's always a way to accomplish your goal with a little pondering on the problem.

Mark said...

Love the improvised goat hobble! Growing we hand milked a Holstein cross cow we named 'Misery', based on her attitude toward whoever was milking her. Until we put hobbles (also sometimes called "cow kickers") on her she had raised kicking over a full milk bucket to an art. Afterword she had to settle for taking her somewhat messy tail and wrapping it around around the back of your head and slapping it right across your glasses.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Leigh! My goat and I are both new to milking, she has calmed down quite a bit but it was rough in the beginning, wish I had thought of this! Defiantly saving for next year when (Lord willing) I will have 2 more new milkers! Love your book and blog, seriously couldn't put the book down!

Anonymous said...

Here's to hoping your girls learn fast and settle down.

I have 2 first fresheners this year. Clover, the one who was most reluctant to have me touch her, settled right in to being milked. Clara, on the other hand, took several weeks to get used to the idea. I tried a hobble, but finally settled on restraining the one leg that was causing 95% of the issues. I used a piece of baling twine tied to the back leg of the milking stand and fastened to her hock. She is still my slowest milker of the 3, but stands willingly now so I don't rush her. I figure next year will be better.

Kristen said...

This video shows a simple technique for kicking goats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwBSl69OuWw It took two of us at first for our new kinder girl who did not like to be milked (one to hold her, one to milk her) but she very quickly got the picture (within a couple of days) and now is a joy at milking time! We're so grateful for that video!!

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, wow, looks like I neglected to finish responding to comments. My bad. One of the things I do with these two is to milk into a wide mouth canning jar. I periodically pour it into the milking pail. That way, if I end up with a foot in it, I don't lose the whole batch!

Harry, exactly!

Mark, that would be misery indeed! Fortunately, the only cow I milked was patient and gentle. I might not have like it otherwise!

Jessica, thank you so much for your kind words! I don't know if you subscribed to the comments, but the YouTube mentioned by Kristen (below) is a really good one.

Sue, I hope so too! Funny how they perceive being milked. Lily is much better now, unless I don't hobble her. Then she takes full advantage of it! Zoey gets fretful as soon as her kids start hollering, which is as soon as she gets on the milking stand.

Kristen, thank you for the link! Great video. I used to wonder if I milked too fast, but after seeing Alayna May, I know I don't! I checked out your G+ page but didn't find a link to a blog to return the visit to.