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Friday, March 21, 2008

Breaking the Girl

Haltered calf
Haltering Uma wasn't a very fun job. She fought and screamed in her cow way. Mama was agitated until I gave her some grain. After all the struggle, we were able to get the halter on.

Tug of war!
With our oldest child on the other end of the rope, a game of tug of war began. Uma being the winner. It took my son and I pulling, and my husband pushing to get her to move. We pushed and pulled until she discovered that if she locked up one leg, she would fall over and we couldn't drag her.

Brat. After 40 minutes of pushing, pulling and flopping over, a neighbor came over. He has had some experience with halter training calves, but he was having as much luck as we were. But the extra pair of hands did help.

a man and his calf
After some time, she got a little better about resisting the lead. By then we were exhausted. My arms and legs felt like lead. We took a break and tried to get her to take in a little water.

You can led a calf to water. . .

She still isn't halter broke, but we are getting there. We will start sooner on the new calf, when it is born, maybe that will make it a little easier. Luckily Uma's grudge against us didn't last long, and she still wants to play with us and lick us and, well, attempt to mount us.



Howling Hill said...

the second to last picture, Uma looks like she's gonna go postal on your butts. It's the "evil cow" look I think. You know, along the lines of the evil eye.

alrescate said...

Obviously this is too late, but with horses, we always found grain to be helpful. Starting earlier will be a big help too.

Looks like Dan got tired of shaving again. That's okay...he's still my favorite COWboy! *grin*

Anita said...

I'd be willing to bet you all will be still feeling that this morning... lol
Love that you took the time to take to pictures for us to share in the whole process... :)

Phelan said...

Howling Hill, ha! Yes I think she was ready to pound us. Thankfully she forgives.

Alrescate, Uma wants nothing to do with grain. Later she will. Right now she is nurseing, likes a little hay and that's about it.

Anita, I didn't mind taking the breaks to get a photo. :D

N. & J. said...

Good luck with the cows! I feel for you but at the same time it's very humorous to read about the battle of wills between human and cow.

Anonymous said...

A trick that helps with halter breaking foals is to use your leadrope as a come-along. Basically wrap the lead around her hindquarters to encourage forward movement. It may be helpful in this particular girl's case to use two lines-one on the ring under her chin and the other as the come-along.

It's also helpful as the babies are just learning to use their mothers as an example. Have one helper lead the mother and another lead the baby by her side. Using grain to encourage mama to walk forward.

Good luck!

Phelan said...

N&J, I agree, but only after the fact.

anonymous, unfortunalty there will be no learning from Mama, as she isn't halter trained. She was a pasture cow, 10 years. We can tempt her only so far with grain, after that, well...We will have to try your trick with the lead rope.

lisa said...

In my experience with foals, the earlier you touch them after birth, the better. My son was present for my mare's foaling, and he (carefully w/mama's blessing) touched the filly right after mama cleaned her off. It helps to blow in their nose a bit, too, so they can smell your breath and sort of "imprint" with you. As you handle them, keep the sessions short and always end on a positive note. That filly was the tamest little doll...I could pick up any foot, touch her anywhere, even the first saddling was a breeze! I'd bet calves aren't all that different. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi Phelan, I am a newbie to posting here but have read through your old posts from the very start. As a little intro, I am a 23yo Aussie who has lived and worked in the country and is currently living in the burbs but hopefully within a year or two will be back on the land homesteading. I love reading your blog and hearing about the challenges you face and how you overcome them. It helps keep me focused on my own dreams, plus is bloody funny at times. I am especially loving hearing about the cows.

I went to an agricultural high school and was in Rural Youth (sort of like your 4H clubs I think?) in the dairy club so spent a lot of time working with calves teaching them to be led for showing (mostly Jerseys and Ayershires). I have tried to remember all the little tricks I used to know but it was a while ago now. Here are a couple of points that may help though:

1 - Dont lead from in front. Always stand next to the animals neck, on the same side (left is best esp if you are right handed) so you are not pulling on them or blocking the way. If there is a clear path in front they will be happier to move forward.

2 - If a cow is being especially stubborn, have someone stand behind it (dont worry, they cant kick backwards like a horse, it is physically impossible) and twist the tail up to the side, not straight over its back, but looping around and forwards and pushing a bit (hope that makes sense) This is uncomfortable for them and they will move away from it. Used to use this to get the big stubborn Hereford cows to move so shouldnt be difficult on your little girls!

Anyway, that is all I can think of for now :)


Phelan said...

Lisa, I will try that imprinting tick on Edie's calf when it is finally born, thank you.

Nimrodelsflight, thank you and welcome to my strange little world. We had tried the tail trick. It only worked for about 2 steps, and then she would fall over. The biggest problem, I think, is her age. She is 2 months old and stubborn as heck. We will keep your suggestions in mind when the new clf comes. thank you.

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