Milking Challenges, Horn Scurs & More Lore

Remember when I told you Copper has been a dream to train? And that I expected some challenges along the way? It’s true. Every doe I have trained to milk has come up with some behavior somewhere along the way that had to be corrected. Cooper has been no exception.

After I had been milking Copper for a while, she got use to having her leg moved back and out to make room for the milk bucket. There have been several times she kicked at flies and caught her hoof on the edge of the pail, but only once did she end up with her foot in milk. That’s a pretty good record for me and a new milker. The flies are really bad right now, but the does have figured out how to kick the flies and miss the bucket, usually. 

The problem Copper developed is a rather intense dislike of having the teat dip applied after I finished milking. The best way I have found to correct this problem is to hold the goat’s leg way up in the air. I doubt if this position is very comfortable, but it is not painful. It is very awkward, and doesn’t allow the goat to kick at all. The only thing they can do is kind of hop up and down on the remaining leg. It makes it very easy to apply the teat dip and totally eliminates any competition for cooperation. The first few times I did this it kind of scared Copper a little and probably confused her. It didn’t take her long to realize that she had no choice, but to cooperate. Now it is not a problem.

The other behavior she has developed is yelling at the top of her lungs whenever she sees us. Unfortunately, she has learned this behavior from Ivory. Now both of them are going through some adjustment periods of being taught not to yell. Regular, quiet goat talk is one thing, but bellowing is just not in our acceptable range of noise levels. We will see how we fare with this behavior. Ivory is already sold and will be leaving here the end of September. If Copper doesn’t calm back down then, like her mom One Stripe, she will also be finding a new home.

Bill, our new buck, is doing well. He is still low man on the totem pole with the older wethers, but he’s doing fine. The only problem he is having is his horn scurs. The folks we bought him from had taken him to the vet several times to have his horns worked on, but he still has some scurs growing out. One of this horn buds is growing scurs out of both sides of the base. We are hoping these are the kinds of scurs that he will eventually knock off, kind of like Copper. She will grow a small rounded horn bud looking thing about one to two inches long. Then one day, she will have a small bloody spot where she has knocked it off again. I am hoping Bill will do the same thing. We will see.

In preparation for Frank’s surgery, we tried letting the weaning kids back out into the herd after they had been separated for three weeks. Copper didn’t let her babies nurse, but Ivory did. So, back to the drawing board on that one. The first year we kept does and kids and had to wean them in separate pastures, we kept them separated for six weeks and that worked fine. Last year we kept them separated for four weeks and that worked, too. Three weeks just didn’t work. So, now we will keep them separated for about another three weeks and see how that goes. We were trying to get down to animals in two pastures, his and hers, instead of three, his, hers and kids.

The other goat thing we were wanting to accomplish is breeding Bill and One Stripe, but neither appears to be interested yet. At one point we thought One Stripe was going into heat, but nothing ever came of that. Since we are using three of our four pastures, and we only want One Stripe to breed, and not Copper or Ivory, we will put Bill and One Stripe in the fourth pasture during the day and return them to their usual pasture in the evening. This will only happen if all is well with Frank and we have the time to mess with them. So, our breeding schedule may be a little later than we originally planned, but that’s okay, too. That’s why they’re called plans, they are subject to change or the whim of the planner.

This is a laid back time of year with the goats, and that is nice. I am still milking twice a day. We keep the morning milk for us, and the evening milk goes to Pearl and the chickens. We will keep more of it when we start making cheese. For now, this is a nice easy routine. There is always more to be learned, tried, discarded, tried again and figured out. Sometime it’s at a convenient time, and sometimes it isn’t. That’s part of this thing called life. Isn’t it great?

Until next time – Fern

12 thoughts on “Milking Challenges, Horn Scurs & More Lore

  1. Frank has been trying an old, tried and true technique. When they yell, he chases them around with a broom stick and yells, \”Stop!!\” When they don't yell, goes out and pets them. He doesn't ever hit them, just uses intimidation. Since they are herd animals, when one runs, they all run. But after a few days, they calm down back to normal. At first I was surprised, but it has actually decreased the yelling dramatically. I still hear one of them hollering on occasion when I am down at the house and no where in sight, though. Yesterday we bought a load of feed, and when we pulled into the barn with the truck, not one of them yelled. I was pleasantly surprised.You're right, Leigh, goat posts are always interesting. I look forward to yours. Thank you for the prayers, they are much appreciated.Fern

  2. By six months the doe kids aren't nursing much, but it depends on the doe as to when she weans them completely. They are usually weaned by 7 months or so. I did the same thing you did, and separated them for up to two months to wean them, but as soon as I put them back in the same pasture they were nursing again. I decided it was less frustrating for all of us to do it this way, and I like that the doe kids get that extra time and milk for good growth. It's definitely easier, but you don't milk twice a day so get less milk.

  3. Goat posts are always interesting. How are you breaking the yelling behavior? i have a couple of yellers I'd like retrained!I've just weaned our oldest buckling because of problems with his sister. I'm working up a post on that for maybe next week. I hate learning things the hard way. Praying for Frank's surgery to go well.

  4. There are some parts of a goat's scur that can be trimmed, but you have to be very careful because they will bleed profusely. I asked our vet if he could remove goat's horns the same way he does cows, by scooping out the horn next to the skull, and he said no. A goat's horns are part of their skull and have a blood supply in them. So, I hope Bill's scurs just get knocked off like Copper's.Fern

  5. I have bought a milk machine of sorts, M.E. I haven't used it, but a friend of mine that was 77 years old with severe arthritis used it and said it was great. It involves a vacuum pump, tubing and a jar. I have one up on the shelf for the time that my arthritis won't let me milk by hand anymore. Here is the link. – The Henry MilkerFern

  6. Weaning goat kids can be pretty difficult here too. After the first year or two, I decided that I'd just leave the doe kids with their moms until Mom decided to wean them. I'd still separate them at night and milk in the morning only, but I had enough does in milk that we were swimming in it and didn't need it all anyway. The buck kids are weaned/sold at three months (though I still have one hanging around here right now).

  7. There is not much more frustrating than a dehorning job that didn't quite work. Do you have a pair of bigger hoof trimmers or a good cutting tool of some kind? I used to take my horse hoof trimmers, place them flat to the skull and cut scurs off quite deep, it really slowed the regrowth and made a smooth trim of the scur. As to changes in plans I often think of the old saying…\”Man Plans…God acts.\” The goats do look wonderful and I really enjoyed this post!

  8. Brings back fond memories of my milking days….. my hand surgeries prevent me from doing anything like that now… would have to look into a machine to do it. Can't see Mtn Man having anything to do with milking!! LOL

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