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Here's a little run down on our oxen experience for those who might be interested.

Singing Falls Oxen
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Thanks for the encouragement concerning our site and the oxen page. Bright is now eleven years old and I may even train another set. This time I'd try some shorthorns or highlanders. Something that would be real hardy in my neck of the woods.
willow_girl said:
I must admit I cried when I came to the part about Tears' passing. :waa: I'm glad to hear Bright is still alive and well!
It was probably the hardest thing I've ever gone through with my stock. Losses are always tough but we had spent quite a few close years working together.
willow_girl said:
So, heifers can be trained to the yoke?! Maybe I should be doing something with this little Jersey-cross girl of mine!
Many pioneers did just that. That's why the milking short horn was so popular. They were a multi-purpose critter in the old days

willow_girl said:
Will a calf that's been raised on its mama (not bottle-fed) respond to training? Both my calves (6 and 4 months) are tame enough for me to walk up and pet them. I'd sure love to find a use for this steer, other than the freezer. :(
You bet. In fact, 6 months is usually the right starting time. I started early because I didn't have a clue what I was doing. If it didn't work out, into the stew pot they would have gone. I found that the Holsteins make a great ox but they can be somewhat "spirited" at times. But by a like token they can be very forgiving of a newbie's foibles.
willow_girl said:
How does one go about breaking in a young steer? I have a skijourning rig for a large dog that might be big enough to serve as a (temporary) harness if I were to hop right to it.
I broke mine to lead with a halter first. Then took one command at a time in halter. Ged'up, Woah, Gee, Haw, Back, Step-over, Come-under (the yoke), Come. I walk on the left (off side) of the ox, halter and lead in the left hand, and rod in my right. I take one command at a time and reward with praise for each correct response and a little switch for errors. I don't go to the next command until the bovine does the present one very well. I TRY not to work them on bad days (mine or the ox's). After the basic commands are down pat I integrate them. Haw! Woah! If you're working a pair of steers lead one off out of ear shot of the other for the initial training sessions.
Next step was to train them in the yoke. Since they both know the commands they reinforce eachother in the yoke. This should be the first time they hear the commands together. It will amaze you how they will teach eachother to obey with this method.
One thing I have heard and learned - "No team is 100% trustworthy!" Another rule is, "Don't let them get away with anything". That cost me a ride being dragged by two oxen through an Oregon mud and manure slush mixture that was well churned up! Come to find my Aussie shepherd was herding the same time I was woahing ( or is that woeing :no: ) He didn't think the oxen should be dragging me and the oxen thought a yipping Aussie was a good excuse to do so. (We having fun yet?)
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uncle Will in In. said:
OX, You have a great site with excellent pictures. I was at an auction where the old man was selling a huge collection of old time wagons and carts. He sold a yoke of 9 year old dark red oxen, and a three year old yoke of jersey oxen that were guided with lines to there halters. The driver got to ride in the cart.
I have never used a lead and halter once they were trained except in a public situation where someone might of gotten hurt. Oxen can "throw their weight around" on occasion. I know others have. I have had many a ride though, on a drag of logs giving the commands from behind the oxen, instead of on the off side of them.
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