Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Constructing a milking stanchion for our cows

I’ve been milking both Tilly and Josey in the mornings since the middle of January. At the time we butchered Chucky Joe, he was still nursing on Josey. So, afterwards, I figured we might as well have that milk now. Josey is still producing two to three quarts of milk a day.


Cleo is still nursing on Tilly, of course, since she’s almost six weeks old. Since Cleo was born, I’ve brought Tilly in to milk her in the mornings to make sure she’s stripped out. In the last two or three weeks, Cleo hasn’t left much for us. I have segregated Tilly at night a few times and am starting to do that regularly now. Doing so we get seven or eight quarts of milk from the two cows.

When I first started milking Josey after Chucky was born, I hooked her halter to a post in the barn. She’s well-behaved when being milked, and her being halter broke makes it easy to tie her and to lead her. Tilly, on the other hand, was not broke to a halter when we bought her. She still isn’t. So, tying her or hooking her halter to a post didn’t work too well for milking her. She protests against such confinement.

After Tilly got here, I built a gate for milking, because that’s what she was used to. It was set up just outside the loafing area in the barn. When I open the gate, whichever cow I’m going to milk walks straight into the milking stall. She stands next to a wall, and I close the gate against her which keeps her from moving around. Overall, this has worked fairly well for both cows during the last year.

Instead of giving the cows grain while I’m milking, I give them a flake of hay to eat. I’ve been putting the hay on the floor at the front of the milking stall. Trying out the stanchionThe only problem has been that they will move a little bit backwards and forwards while nuzzling through the hay. I’ve wanted to do something to constrain them a little more. So, today, I constructed a stanchion.

I used 2x4s to construct the stanchion. I set a post from floor to ceiling and tied it to existing posts. I used a 2x4 for the locking mechanism to hold the cow’s head in the small feed bunk I built to hold hay. It pivots over and is secured with a pin. When closed, there is about 8 inches of room for the cow’s neck which allows her to move enough to reach all the hay, but it doesn’t give her enough room to pull her head back out. I’m pretty sure of this because when I put Tilly in it to try it out today, she tried to pull her head out but couldn’t.

Josey in the homemade stanchionJosey eating hay

I actually put both cows in the stanchion to see how they would do with it and how well it works. Josey had no problem with it and enjoyed a little hay while standing there. Tilly, on the other hand, didn’t want her head locked in. She tried to get out but couldn’t. After a bit she calmed down and ate some hay. I sat next to her and simulated milking for a few minutes. When I moved near her head, she would begin to fight the stanchion and move her hind end over.
Stanchion with gate
Because of Tilly’s movements, I decided that I would continue to use the gate in addition to the stanchion. The cow's view of the stanchion when heading in to be milkedThis way, she would be forced to keep her hind end over and her forward and backward motions would be restricted. So, I made the necessary modifications to the gate (I made it shorter) and installed it. We’ll see in the morning how well it works. I believe it will work fine.


small farm girl

You are so lucky to have milk cows. I would love to try raw milk. I have never had any to drink. I would also love to make some cheese with it. Well, maybe some day. I can at least eat a grass fed steak from my beef cows for now. lol


Milk cows are a blessing. Fresh, whole, raw milk is wonderful. At least you have good beef to eat! If you're interested in getting a milk cow, I I'm going to sell Cleo, our little heifer. I'm hoping Josey will have a heifer that we can keep. Cleo needs a bit more handling to calm her down (she's been a bit more high-strung than I want since she was born).

plastic stanchions

Great Blog!! That was amazing. Your thought processing is wonderful. The way you tell the thing is awesome. You are really a master

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