Cow discipline

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Momof8kiddoes, May 17, 2005.

  1. Momof8kiddoes

    Momof8kiddoes Well-Known Member

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    Posting on my calf butting, got me thinking about my cow and calf...when to discipline, and how to do it...never had a cow in my life, so Im lost on this subject. Only have had them a little over a month now....

    My jersey (7yrold) is for the most part a good girl, but here and there, when I go to put her in her stall, she will swing her head as I try to grab her halter, as if to say 'let me be'. I end up getting in front of her and pulling both sides of the halter under the chin to get her to go. Is that right, or should I be doing something more?

    On my calf (6weeks), I cant find a halter that fits her (anyone have any ideas?), so its a bit of a chore to get her to go where she needs to go.
    But I havent a clue on how to train her to lead.

    What else...what things do you guys slap the nose or get irate with your cow for? What do you let go, vs what do you get down and dirty about?

    Is it the same as with kids (in my experience anyway)-if you dont want them doing something as an adult/teenager, dont let them do it as a little one?

    Mary F.
     
  2. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    It sounds like you are on the right track!

    It helps if your cows are just intimidated enough by you to respect your space and not crowd you. Cows being a herd animal, they very much have a pecking order and bigger, older cows will push around the smaller, younger ones. Unless they recognize you as the dominant one, they will try to push you too (say, to get at the bucket of feed you're carrying) and, because they're so large, you can inadvertently get hurt.

    All my animals know what "Get back!" accompanied by a clap of the hands means. (Doesn't mean they always obey though!) :p

    If your cows get pushy, you can carry a lunge whip (the kind used by horsemen) and use it to enforce your space. These whips are really handy when working with a large number of animals. (You don't really use it as a whip, more like as an extension of your arm to direct and block.)

    Be aware that, much like horses, cows will be sensitive to your body language. If you're trying to drive a cow forward, stay behind her shoulder. If you get too far out in front, she will balk or turn. If you're trying to get a cow through a doorway or opening, and she balks in a major way, you can get behind her and press her tail against her back end, or even fold it up a little to put pressure on her to get her to move. This is sort of the last resort though. Remember that cows are prey animals and they're naturally looking for the wolf behind every rock. When I have to get a heifer in the parlor for the first time, I get her going in the direction of the doorway, but the closer she gets, the more I back off. I try to deliberately "relax" to show her there is nothing to be afraid of. I let her stop and sniff the doorway and look around. Especially if there are already cows inside, she'll usually go in on her own once she's satisfied her curiousity.

    Now, about the halter thing! Easiest thing to do is make a rope halter. You can probably Google directions, but let's see if I can explain it.

    Take a good long piece of stout rope. Take one end, fold it over, and tie a knot so you have a loop (not a slipknot) in the end. Then run the opposite end of the rope through the loop so it makes a circle. This goes around the nose of the animal. Then, take the long end of the rope, run it up around the poll (behind the ears) and through the circle, on the inside or closest to the animal, on the other side of the nose. Loop it back through the circle (NOT back around the poll) once or twice. Ta-DAH! A halter and lead rope all in one! You can even take a separate little piece of rope and make a chin strap to help hold it place.

    I am sure you can find a diagram that will explain it much better than I just did! :eek:

    The nice thing about a rope halter is that when you pull on it, it puts pressure on the poll, which is a fairly sensitive area. It also releases pressure much more quickly when an animal obeys by stepping forward, which is a reward of sorts. So it helps condition the animal to being led. :)
     

  3. evermoor

    evermoor Well-Known Member

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    Follow Willow girls advice. You are on the right track. Sounds like she is pretty well behaved already. Cows seem to love to toss their heads around when they are tied in or eating the grain. We use collers on all the calves. Large dog collers should work or most farm catologs carry them. The calves are staked with about 8 foot of a light chain. When it is nice they are moved around the yard to mow the grass, this seems to break them into to leading and being tied easier than calves that are reared in pens or on their mommas. Jersey heads are much smaller than cows so go a size down if looking at a stable halter. Try a sheep or goat halter for young calves also (maybe a LLama or miniture horse on too) Foal halters work on young calves if your looking for on to turn out on, just remember it will eventually fall off or catch on something and can hurt the animal.
     
  4. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    At most horse supply places, you can buy adjustable halters for foals & yearlings to accomodate growth and they work dandy for calves because you can literally adjust them any way you'd like to get a nice fit. We use them often for young cattle and the flat webbing isn't as inclined to cut into the poll or pinch anyplace they shouldn't. I wouldn't speculate on prices but I know that we pay about $15 for a decent quality web halter that is ajustable. You might want to check ebay and see what you can find. If I get a chance, I'll even look for you since I know what I'm looking for.
     
  5. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    Hi Mary,
    You've had some good, practical, commonsense advice here and I would have only repeated what Willow has said. I've got some very laid-back cows and I couldn't really tell you how they got like that without writing a book on it. They come to the call, they know the tone of voice, they don't crap or pee in the milking shed and if I don't shut the little gate, the buggers line up waiting to get into their bale for milking - which is a real pain because the shed isn't that big and here I am tripping over cows.

    I don't use halters on either the calves or the cows. Within a day of learning to drink from the calfateria, the calves know where to come for their milk and associate me with food. They run in a paddock during the day, as soon as I turn up at the cowshed they're standing at the gate waiting to be let in to their feeding pen. The cows either follow me or I walk behind them. They know the farm and they know the routine so it's never a problem to move them around. I do have calf halters than fit new born calves and can be adjusted as they grow. If you really want halters and can't find any, let me know and I'll send a couple across for you but I'm sure you should be able to get them.

    I get irate at my cows if Honey decides she's going to go left when everything else is going right. Or gets on to the bridge then stops. Or gets half way through a gate and stops. Honey is boss cow so of course nothing will push past her and she holds up the whole works. I get irate when Rosie uses her horns to open the sliding door of the feed shed and I find her gorging on chook pellets or pig nuts! But mostly it's because they don't want to move and I'm running around in 6 different directions getting them to move off to their day or night paddock. Believe it or not I use the oven handle off an old stove :p but I can bend down and pick a stalky bit of grass and that will be enough to get the reaction I want. I've also used twigs off trees and the stems from flax flowers. Whatever you use shouldn't be heavy enough to inflict pain, but enough for them to know your not going to put up with any nonsense. Your right in that it's like having children - you set the boundaries from the word go.

    I think your the sort who is going to get a lot of pleasure out of your cows and you'll pick it up as you go. I look forward to continuing installments.

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
  6. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    I used a llama halter when I first got Corabelle (50# at 5 weeks old). It worked until she grew into a claf halter with a few extra holes punched in. I also used a rope halter with a lead hanging down (when supervised) to help her become halter broke.

    I used to look at cattletoday.com. There was a member on that board, Running Arrow Bill (his website is http://www.runningarrowlonghorns.com/pages/423661/index.htm)
    who published a pamphlet on training cattle. He sent me one and it had good common sense advice. You could probably contact him or I could try to dig it up for you if you want me to look.

    I've loved your posts; they remind me of where I was 3 years ago (and still am most days). Your cow is going to be the love of your life.
     
  7. Momof8kiddoes

    Momof8kiddoes Well-Known Member

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    Once again, thank thank thank you all...this is really wonderful to have the advise of experience here!
    Willow, thanks for the rope instructions for a halter....going to have dh give it a go, hes pretty good at that stuff :)
    And Christina, lol, its probably nice to look back and see all you have learned in the 3 years you have been doing this! Without yalls help, Id be frantic about alot of things right now...so good to have you all.
    Mary F.