Oxen power

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Rob30, Jan 3, 2006.

  1. Rob30

    Rob30 Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    812
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Location:
    Ontario
    I am looking for some info on oxen power. Specifically training, yoke construction, matching a team,work.
    I am in the process of training a couple your shorthorn steers. One is a little older then the other though. I want to even up their size.
     
  2. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,484
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2005
    Location:
    Florida
    Check out www.ruralheritage.com. The website has a lot of info, and they have a magazine you can subscribe to, as well as books available on oxen.

    Small Farmers Journal usually has an article or two on oxen each issue, and they have the oxen books available as well. www.smallfarmersjournal.com.
     

  3. JulieLou42

    JulieLou42 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    502
    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Location:
    North Central Idaho, Zone 5
  4. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

    Messages:
    2,246
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2004
    Location:
    Northeastern Minnesota
    Cattle are very intelligent and do learn to quickly. They are also powerful so one must understand the "boss cow" and "lead cow" concepts to have them under control.
     
  5. Rob30

    Rob30 Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    812
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Location:
    Ontario
    I have viewed the webpages mentioned, they are very good.
    I am looking for specifics.
    According to the info I have I would need to make a new yoke every 5 months. Is there a design for an expandable yoke that grows with the steer through the training phase?
    Any tricks on how to ensure I am the boss cow?
    How old are the steers before you can start light work?
    What ensures you have control over the steers? A horse has a bit, but the steers follow verbal commands. Sitting on a cart with 2 steers that deside to take off doesn't sound fun.
     
  6. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

    Messages:
    2,246
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2004
    Location:
    Northeastern Minnesota
    There are head yokes, neck yokes, forehead yokes, withers yokes, 2-pad collars, 3-pad collars, Chinese collars, and some folk use an upsidedown horse collars and hames. How often you have to change their apparati will depend on the system you choose.

    Cattle understand intimidation; they do it to each other and they will intimidate you if they can. If you are to be the boss cow in your little herd of two steers they must understand that you cannot be bullied. Never allow them to play "push" with you or they will learn that they are stronger. Tie them often or permanently so they know you can dominate them.

    By the time your steers are a couple of weeks old they can pull a yard cart full of Grand-darlings for a few minutes a day; if one wants to call that useful work.

    Keep a halter on your steers until you can trust them to not run away. Use a goad to direct them. For me, I say the command followed by a tap on the left shoulder turns them "Gee" or to the right, a tap on the right shoulder turns them "Haw" or left, with a tap on the base of the tail they "Step-Up", with a tap on the boss of the head they "Whoa", and with a tap on their knees they "Back". Within a few 15 or 20 minute sessions they will rarely need to be tapped. By the time you have 40 hours in them they should know the words, or at least they will be able to read your body language telegraphing the commands.

    You have control over your steers by teaching them they cannot run away, and eventually they will stop trying, or at least rarely try.

    My very limited experience is with Jerseys and American Milking Devons; both breeds are knuckle heads. Your Shorthorns, if they be Milking Shorthorns, will be less of a trial.
     
  7. spring77

    spring77 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    68
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Location:
    pennsylvania
    Read "Oxen: a Teamsters Guide" by Drew Conroy for specifics.
    If you are using a bow-style yoke you aren't going to have many options but to make a series of yokes for them as they grow. The easiest way is to laminate pine boards to make the beam and leave everything rough except for the neck seats. You can use pine from a 4 inch up to about an 8 inch yoke without danger because up to that size you won't be asking them to pull anything extreme, they are just training yokes. Past eight inch you need to go with hardwood like elm, birch, or maple etc but they grow slower so it is worth the effort at that point.