Bottle Fed Male Animals

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by randiliana, Jan 18, 2007.

  1. randiliana

    randiliana Guest

    Here is a very interesting article for all of you that raise or may raise bottle babies....

    Beware of the bottle raised male orphan!
    Joseph M. Stookey
    Professor of Animal Behaviour
    Western College of Veterinary Medicine
    Most people have an appreciation and understanding that mature male animals (bulls,
    rams, stags, etc.) are potentially dangerous, but most people fail to appreciate that the
    most dangerous males are those that have been bottle raised. Such males become
    dangerous because of the fact that they have imprinted onto people; it has neither to do
    with how they were treated nor is it due to their genetics. Bottle raised males are simply
    “programmed” due to their hand rearing to one day threaten their human rivals.
    How is it possible for a tame pet to turn on its caretaker or other humans? First off, all
    avian and mammalian neonates are born with a preprogrammed drive to imprint onto
    their mother. Imprinting refers to a critical period of time early in the animal’s life when
    it forms attachments and develops a concept of its own species’ identity. Imprinting
    provides animals with information about who they are and for males it determines
    specifically who they will find attractive when they reach sexual maturity. Only a few
    species like cow birds and cuckoos, that are essentially parasites in another bird’s nest,
    can be reared by surrogate parents and get things “right” when they reach sexual
    maturity. The famous German ethologist, Konrad Lorenz demonstrated the imprinting
    process in goslings and ducklings and showed that in the absence of their real mothers
    these precocial birds would imprint onto their human care taker.
    Imprinting has long lasting and important biological and psychological effects on adult
    sexual behaviour, which is often irreversible. Males that have been imprinted onto
    another species tend to court the surrogate species that raised them. For example, ram
    lambs that are raised on nanny goats will court and try to breed female goats when they
    reach sexual maturity and they show very little interest in ewes. The same pattern
    unfolds in birds. Some farm families have the embarrassing pet tom turkey who spends
    his entire life courting and pestering the family members that raised him. That is why in
    captive breeding programs for endangered species like the whooping crane or the
    California condor the hatchlings are raised and fed by bird puppets. The human
    caretakers must stay hidden from the young birds in order to ensure they are properly
    imprinted onto the correct species and not imprinted onto humans. Fortunately young
    females that imprint onto the wrong species are usually not affected and will remain
    attracted to the courtship displays from males of their own species. That is why ewe
    lambs that are raised on nanny goats will breed to rams even though their surrogate
    mother was a goat.
    The point to remember is that orphan males of most species will imprint onto their
    surrogate mothers and then later in life will direct their sexual behaviour towards the
    surrogate species. If humans become the surrogate species it creates a potentially
    dangerous situation. When the male reaches sexual maturity, in addition to his
    misdirected attraction, he will have bouts of male aggression that he will direct against
    his human “competition”. Male aggression is a normal part of sexual behaviour. In
    nearly all our livestock and wild species (horses, dogs and cats may be the exception)
    bottle raised intact males will show aggression towards humans when they reach sexual
    Most people mistakenly believe that dairy bulls are dangerous because of their genetics.
    It is true that most dairy bulls are dangerous, but it has more to do with their rearing
    conditions then their genetics. Most dairy bulls are hand reared in isolation which
    contributes to their behaviour towards humans when they become adults. Dr. Ed Price, a
    behaviour researcher from the University of California at Davis, has shown that Hereford
    bull calves raised in isolation and hand fed by humans became dangerous to people when
    they reached adulthood, whereas their group raised counterparts where not mean towards
    There are numerous examples of intact male animals that were wonderful pets as young
    animals, but grew up to become killers or potential killers of their human caretakers.
    When I was a child one of my neighbors was forced to shoot and kill their pet whitetail
    buck they had bottle raised, after it had attacked them during rut. This story is not
    uncommon. There were 15 deer related human fatalities over a 5 year period in the
    United States (Langley and Hunter, 2001); many of these were likely the result of bottle
    raised males. During the same time period another 142 humans were killed by cattle.
    Though the statistics did not state the exact circumstances, some of these fatalities were
    certain to have been caused by hand reared bulls. The “berserk male syndrome”, talked
    about in llama circles, whereby a male llama suddenly becomes aggressive towards
    people is not a syndrome per se, but the result of bottle raising the male llama. Even
    bottle raised ram lambs that seem so friendly and docile while growing up have been
    known to inflict severe injury onto their caretakers or an unsuspecting visitor (who turns
    their back towards them) when the ram becomes mature.
    What should you do with orphan newborns? The best option is to look for other lactating
    females in the herd or flock who may have lost their own offspring or who have
    additional milk. Such females can be excellent candidates provided that they can be
    tricked into accepting the orphan as their own. How to get a surrogate mother to accept
    the newborn as her own is a story in itself. However, assuming the adoption or cross
    fostering is successful, this offers the best possible method for rearing the orphan since a
    surrogate mother will likely have the right milk composition, plus she is willing to remain
    “on call” for 24 hours a day.
    The take home message is that newborn male orphans of deer, elk, bison, cattle, sheep,
    goats and llamas should never be bottle raised or at the very least should be castrated
    before reaching sexual maturity in order to avoid a dangerous and potentially lethal future
    situation. Please spread the word.
    Langley, R. L. and J. L. Hunter. 2001. Occupational fatalities due to animal-related events. Wilderness
    and Environ. Med. 12:168-174.
    Price, E.O. and S. J. R. Wallach. 1990. Physical isolation of hand-reared Hereford bulls increases their
    aggressiveness toward humans. Appl-Anim-Behav-Sci. 27:263-267
  2. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2005

  3. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

    May 11, 2002
    Locally a guy bottle raised a beef bull. Eventually put in a herd with other bulls. One day he was walking across the field, scratched the bull on his nose, turned to walk away and the bull attacked. Likely only way he survived is the bull eventually pushed him under a fence, but he was still hospitalized for a long period with broken bones and internal injuries. Son went out to the pasture and dropped bull, who was left for the buzzards.

    As noted in article, never, ever, completely trust a bull.
  4. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    New York bordering Ontario
    That's very interesting. The bull I have in the barn now is close to three years old and of all the ones I've had, is the least trouble. He came from a large farm that raises a pen of bulls every year so they'll always have five or six in with the herd. I had assumed that the reason he's easy going is because of his disposition and genetics, but maybe it's being raised with the other boys instead.

    Unfortunately, 'Tiny' is going down the road soon, anyway. It never pays to have them around too long.

  5. jerzeygurl

    jerzeygurl woolgathering

    Jan 21, 2005
    another thing to remember, don't rub the cutie on the head as a youngun, they will continue to try to rub on you as an adult
  6. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

    Oct 6, 2005
    Yes, bulls are never to be entirely trusted. Contrarywise, buck goats are easier to handle and breed with if raised on a long as they were raised knowing they are NOT boss!
  7. Pat

    Pat Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2004
    Any bull should never be trusted!

    I wouldn't use any male animal that was bottle fed for breeding (if I bottle feed a male it's for meat! and will be castrated). I don't see how anyone can bottle feed and still keep the fear of me in them. Not only that, but if the mother rejected it for some reason, I don't want to take the chance it was genetics and pass that on. (but, I admit we don't run any dairy animals.)

    I bought a ram that wasn't bottle fed (I saw him taken off his mother, and heard the 3 days of being taken off), but acted like a bottle fed. Only reason he lived for a year was he was the only ram I had... had a chance to swap him is the only reason he wasn't taken to the butcher.

    First thing I ask when buying any male is was it bottle fed, then I check and see how "friendly" they are.

    Around here, there is only 1 ALPHA and that's me. If they don't beleive it, they are swapped or eaten (or fertilizer if it's dog / cat). (won't sell and they are warned several times if swapping.)

  8. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

    Oct 6, 2005
    Yes, there is a difference in dairy vs beef. 99% of dairy breeding bulls will be bottle-raised. Its the nature of dairy. Dairy bulls will also usually be handled much more than beef when they are mature and breeding. Just have to be careful.
  9. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

    May 11, 2002
    Probably many a dairy widow has said something to the effect, "We just don't know what happened. We raised that bull from birth. Just a big baby. One day Harry went down to feed him and didn't come back. The only way we knew it was him was from the overalls he was wearing."

    Bought one holstein (and steered him) to try to put on a Jersey cow I had. Didn't take so I bottle raised him for a while and then turned him out with the beef herd. Come feeding time I would just go out, call and he would come running. Noticed he also had a trick or two. He would wait until another calf was suckling from the side and then he'd sneak in from the back. Sometimes just a sip before being kicked, sometimes the cow didn't notice. After he weaned himself he become somewhat of a yard pet. I would let him in the yard to graze in the morning and then back into the pasture at night. Occasionally he would go up to the gate to watch cars drive by, but didn't venture out onto the road. Eventually he went to market with a load of others.
  10. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

    May 11, 2002