Halter training the calvesRSS feed

Posted: Tuesday 2 November, 2010

by Rosemary at 7:30pm in Cattle Comments closed

We decided that it was important that our calves were halter trained. We want to milk them, we can't afford expensive handling equipment and we may show them, if any classes are available. When we got them less than two weeks ago, they were unhandled but were quite calm around folk.

Since they arrived, we've been spending a bit of time with them. Everyone stops at the byre door and "has a word" and the calves are naturally curious, so they come for a sniff and sometimes a lick and chew, depending on how brave the human is. Because I feed them twice a day, they probably know me best.

After the first two feeds, they knew what a bucket was and what was in it. Since then, it's just been a case of building up contact. I can now scratch their heads - behind the poll is a favourite place - and run my hands down their sides, legs and bellies when they are eating. A stiff brush is kept on the byre windowsill for impromptu groming sessions.

Today, I took in my 22ft Parelli rope to make a lasso. While they ate, I flicked the rope over their backs, necks and heads, then slipped the noose over Blizzard's head. Once she had finished eating, she started to move around. Because of the size of the byre and the length of the rope, I just let her move, letting her get the feel of the pressure round her neck. After 10 minutes, I took it off.

Tonight when they were eating, I slipped the halter on to Blizzard. She walked around a bit then went back to her trough. I was trying to put pressure on the rope towards the trough, while adding pressure behind so that she would learn to follow the feel of the halter. I've left it on so she gets used to the feel, but am just going to remove it now.

Breeze is a bt more wary. I did get a halter on her but she was too unsettled to leave it on, so I've removed it. I'll try again tomorrow. The vet is coming to see them on Friday and I've been having sleepless nights worrying about restraining them - don't want to appear a total idiot!! but I'm starting to feel a bit more confident.

I've done a bit of reading on halter training but some of it seems a bit rough, so we'll do it our way and try and keep it gentle.

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