Our girl Stella is due March 19th with her first calf. The past several days I've been feeding her a small amount of grain in our stanchion. I've left it open to allow her to leave if she so chooses.
I've been brushing her, touching her, etc. and she is doing very well.
The next step in the process seems to be closing the stanchion while she's eating. Any advice on how to handle it if she panics a bit? Not to say she will, but I'd love a plan in case. My thought is that I should not open the stanchion until she settles down.
I want the milking stanchion to be a happy place for her, but I also don't want her to think pulling back will get her released.
My Buttercup nearly pulled the stanchion off the wall (the outside contraption I use while washing my cows) the first time I locked her head in, even though I'd been leaving it open and touching her all over like you are. So for more than a month, I had to feed her some grain, start touching her and then also grab the stanchion gate and make noise by jiggling it a bunch (the same noise she'd hear if I actually closed it). She'd back out but then go back in for more grain (I had to be patient and wait for that to happen sometimes while brushing her all the while) and then I'd jiggle it again once her head was in. It was a routine we did for longer than I wanted but eventually I locked her head in and she didn't react at all.
She was the first cow I've ever had who didn't love her grain enough to ignore getting her head locked up.
MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~