How I Built Our Milking Stanchion

If you’ve kept up with things around here, you know our daughter, Shelby, asked for a milk cow for Christmas. And we said yes! The hard work is paying off, and we are loving the milk! But, milking would not be as enjoyable without our milking stanchion! You can certainly milk without a stanchion, but having our jersey cow secured in the stanchion while we milk has definitely made the job a lot easier. Our cow was used to being milked in a milking stanchion, and I think our having one has helped her feel a bit more at ease knowing what to expect. I’ll give you the details of how we built ours here if you’d like to build your own or are just curious.

I made use of a lot of reclaimed barn wood that we already had around, so this plan is heavy in 2x6s because we had a lot of them. I knew we wanted the stanchion elevated to get our milk cow up off the floor to make milking easier and to help keep things cleaner. I used about 8 or 9 2″x6″ @ 8′ boards for the frame, and a lot of random 2″ scrap pieces for the deck, plus 4- 2×4’s for the side supports and head catch. I also used some 1″ scrap to create the little feeder. Because this old wood is really thick- mostly 2″ and thicker, I used mostly 3 1/2″ and 4″ screws, with some 2 1/2″ screws on the feeder.

I started off with 2- 2×6’s @ 8′ for the sides of the main frame. There are 2- 2×6 @ 28″, which puts the overall frame width at 32″ because my old boards are extra thick. The center support 2×6 is 84 3/4″ long. I cut one end on each at a 55 degree angle with my miter saw to create a little step up. All of these frame boards are on end to raise things up. I probably didn’t need the center support board, but better safe than sorry. I found a perfect scrap piece for the slope up. It was already about 33″ long, so I just went with it.I added one 2×6 piece above the slope before adding the vertical frame pieces. I made the deck pieces that go inside the vertical frame the width of the main frame (32″) to keep things flush, but all of the other deck pieces I cut the width of the outside of the vertical frame, which for me was 36″. I just wanted to give more width to keep our milk cow from possibly slipping off the sides. Attach your vertical frame pieces to the sides of the main frame using plenty of screws. I made my vertical pieces 73″ tall, which made the vertical support about 65″ high from the deck, since the vertical support pieces go all the way to the ground. The top vertical support pieces are 36″. Then attach a 2×4 on the insides of the vertical pieces to secure everything and keep your cow from cruising out the sides of the milking stanchion. Mine were 76″ to go from one vertical support to the other and I screwed them in at 33″ up from the deck.At this point, we moved the milking stanchion into the barn before it got any heavier. Then, I added the remaining decking pieces. Notice how they are wider (36″) than the first ones (32″). This will be a bit different if you are using new wood.I also went ahead and added a stop board (2×8 @ 36″) where I plan to add the head catch and feeding area. This really helped sturdy the vertical support pieces as well.Now, we just need a head catch and feeder! I added another horizontal piece (2×6 @ 36″) toward the top of the vertical support pieces that will serve as part of the head catch.Next, I propped a 2×4 on a scrap piece of wood to decide where I’d want the head catch. I had measured the stanchion at Sue’s, but my paper blew away when I pulled my gloves out of my pocket- so I had to wing it here. I knew we wanted something adjustable, so I made several marks where I thought different settings should be.I used carriage bolts through the head catch to allow for plenty of adjustment options. Because these would be going through 3 layers of wood, I got them plenty long- 1/2″ x 8″. I also grabbed some washers and nuts to go with them.I used a 5/8″ bit to drill through the wood, one layer at a time.Drill top and bottom holes in one 2×4, then set it on top of the other and mark through the hole to determine where to drill on the next board.Now, line it up along the marks on your head catch frame and drill those holes, too.Place your head catch boards, then add a bottom piece- centering it where you’ll need to drill holes for the bolts to come through. I did this by marking through the holes just like before, then moving the head catch pieces and drilling through the existing holes, trying to keep everything as straight as possible.Once my drill bit started to punch through the other side, I went around and finished my holes there. This did not turn out perfect for me, but it was close enough 😉Brad hadn’t gotten the electric finished yet- so I was super glad to have my cordless cable lights!Now, attach and drill holes through the top support piece on your head catch, and you’ll be all set!Once I finished the head catch, I quick built a little feeder with scrap 2×6 and 1″ boards. I thought I had taken pictures of this process but can’t find them- sorry! I just built it up, making sure to leave the area where the bottom bolts come through accessible for adjustments. I had intended to make a little catch with a scrap piece of wood on a hinge for opening and closing one side of the head catch, but we have just been sliding the one bolt in and out, and that has worked great! I know this is a rough layout of how I built our milking stanchion, but I hope it helps you create your own! If you’re building this milking stanchion, you might also like to build a one- legged milking stool with some of your scraps! Feel free to ask any questions and I hope you’ll follow along on our journey 🙂

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