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Monday, May 11, 2015


I always prepare my does from the time they're very young by letting them eat Chaffhaye on the milk stand when I'm trimming feet, or brushing them, or just letting them get used to the idea of jumping on the stanchion.  While there, I run my hands all over them, including belly, thigh, and future udder, sometimes even gently massaging those tiny teats.  Nevertheless, sometimes first fresheners just don't "get it", true even if preliminary work has been done.  They may dance or kick, and for my part, I don't enjoy holding one leg up while I try to milk with the other hand. It becomes even more critical when they "graduate" to the milking machine.

This year, I had two first fresheners that I had to hobble, one because she would bring her hind legs far forward and crouch down, and the other because she started to kick.  I've seen a few different types of hobbles, but these two setups work for me. Both use a nylon curb strap for a horse's bridle for each leg.  These are easily found in any tack shop or online wherever they sell horse supplies.  I keep them snug, but not tight.

The first has the hobbles attached from the back

Removeable hobbles can easily be hooked to the stanchion and attached to the legs.

A view from the back

My other stanchion is much longer and wider, so I put an screweye just about at leg length on either side.  The setup also allows for a lengthener if necessary.  This one isn't quite as good as the other, since the doe can still step forward, instead of keeping her legs under her, but it does keep the legs down, and not allow kicking.

This setup works for a longer stanchion.  I used a screweye instead of a hook.

The MOST CRUCIAL thing about using these hobbles is to make sure they've been removed before letting the doe off the stanchion.  The best outcome is the stanchion falls over, but a worse one would be the doe on the floor with her hind legs on the stanchion--not a pretty situation at all.

The two does in the photos needed the hobbles for a short time, but they seem to be fine now. The longest I've ever had to hobble a doe was 2 months.  These two took 4 weeks and 2 weeks respectively.  Dolly, the Sable, took longer because as soon as I touched her udder, she'd step forward and crouch.  Now she stands square, just as if she had the hobbles on.  In fact, I didn't have to move her feet when I hobbled her for these photos. 

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