Last time I exlained why we went with the portable design, provided the materials list, and showed how to make the head gate for our portable milking stanchion (goto Part 1 here). This time around we’re going to be talking about building the elevated milking platform, installing the head gate, and putting the whole thing together. I’ll be sharing some tips, tricks, and tweaks that we came up with to optimize our design as well!
Now onto the milking platform….
First layout out your 4×4’s in pairs. Each pair will get a 2x6x6ft attached at 12in from the bottom, 30in from the bottom, and 48in from the bottom. Layout, check for square, and attach the 2×6’s to the 4×4’s. You should have two identical panels when you’re done. Next stand the pairs of panels up and attach them to each other using first the 2x6x43in at the bottom, then the 2x4x43in across the top. The 2×6’s will be the support structure for the platform, so make sure everything is flush across the tops of them.
Now that you have a solid support structure for your platform go ahead and layout all of your 2x4x3ft pieces and screw them into place to make the milking platform. Word of caution here, you will need to space the 2×4’s out to get full coverage so lay them all out across the 2×6 joists (bottom rails) and gap them out accordingly. On ours we made the gap at the front of the stanchion (where the head gate will go) tight and then allowed for a wider gap towards the rear (where the business end of the cow will be….for easier clean up just in case!), but you could space them evenly to sooth your internal OCD conflicts. Once you have everything gapped to your liking, go ahead and screw everything in place with a couple screws per end. Now that your deck is complete grab the last two 2x6x6ft boards and attach them on edge to the 4×4 posts flush with the top of your milking platform as a toe kick for your cow. This will keep her hooves from sliding off the edge of the platform as she’s loading up and being milked….trust me you want this toe kick, don’t ask how I know it’s not a pleasant tale to recount!
Now that you’ve compled the raised milking platform it’s time to add the head gate and finishing touches. For the head gate, attach your heavy duty hinges about six inches from either corner top and bottom, then simply attach them to one of your 4×4 uprights. We attached our on the lefthand side because we work on the cow (milking, etc.) from the right side, adjust your layout accordingly. Leave at least a half inch gap between the swinging headgate and the top of your platform. Once everything is set and working how you want it you can attach your head gate lock. I designed this one to act as both a latch for the swinging head gate (to keep it closed) and a locking mechanism for the head catch (to keep you cow secured in the head gate). Set your latch so that it will slide in between the outer rails on the headgate to keep it from swinging open, and make it long enough to lock the pivoting upright in place so your cow can’t back out of the stanchion. Use a carriage bolt with washers as your pivot point. I got everthing set and working properly, secured the latch board with a single screw then drilled the holes for the bolt through both boards at the same time to make sure everything lined up good. Set the bolt and remove the screw…done! Your portable milking stanchion is now ready to use!
Now for the finishing touches and tweaks….The first thing I added was a little wedge to sit underneath the latch side of the headgate to support that side taking the stress off the hinges when the gate is closed. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but will add to the longevity and good working orderbof the swinging headgate. The next addition was a ramp at the rear of the stanchionfor loading the old girl into the stanchion. A twelve inch step up for a cow is doable, but it’s a stretch, so adding the ramp made things a lot easier. You can get by with just the one ramp and move it to the front when it’s time to take her out, but we just made a step down out of a pallet with some plywood screwed to the top on our exit side…works good and she doesn’t seem to mind the step coming out of the stanchion as much as she did going in. We added traction with some ruberized matts since the slightest amount of moisture and the wood became slick…I supose some deck paint with sand in it would work good here as well.
One thing we noticed with the three foot wide platform is there was a lot of room for lateral movement once our cow was locked into the headgate. We added another 2x4x6ft board, hinged from the front (headgate end) on the left hand side to pull her as far to the right as we could. This was secured with a shrt length of chain, and makes the chore of milking much easier (she physically can’t move away from you). This squeeze board fits nicely between the 2×6 rails, and is supported by the bottom rail when not in use.
So there you have it….the Traditional Catholic Homestead portable milking stanchion in all of its glory! If you have any questions, something doesn’t make sense, or need some clarification you can leave a comment or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org