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Author Topic: halter training  (Read 6179 times)

rab macablo

  • Joined Jan 2011
halter training
« on: January 20, 2011, 09:05:47 pm »
How would I go about halter training a couple of 18 month old heifers?
Voss Electric Fence

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: halter training
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2011, 10:36:48 am »
I can only tell you what I have done with ours. Dan will put a bit of video on the main TAS site later this morning that we took yesterday of our two.

We bought two Shetland heifers at 6 months, in Ocober. They were unhandled. For this reason we kept them inside. They don't have room to get away or build up any real momentum if they jump around. We intend to calve them in spring 2012 and hand milk for the house, while allowing them to rear their calves as well. Shetlands can live until their late teens / early twenties. We saw one that was 19 and had produced 15 calves. Halter training has therefore been on the basis that we have to get along for many years, so time spent early on won't be wasted.

First, I took a book and sat in the byre and read my book. I ignored the calves. After a wee while, their natural curiosity got the better of them and they came and sniffed me. I did not touch them unless they touched me first.  As their confidence grew, I was able to touch them at feeding time, rub them, then brush them. They like being brushed. When they would stand to be brushed without being fed, I got the halters.

I started letting them sniff them, then spent time throwing the ropes over their backs, over their heads, to desensitize them. Don't be sneaky - you want them to trust you. If they moved away, I kept doing it until they stood still, then they got a good scratch as reward. Once they seemed comfortable with that, I slipped the halters on while they were eating. I knotted the nosebands so they couldn't either tighten or slacken and tied up the lead rope to the headpiece and left them on for a couple of days. When I went to feed them, I'd slip a hand under the halter and put a bit of pressure on to move them around.

From there, it was tying them up for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and always feeding them when tied up and / or giving them a brush, so they associate it with something nice. Tie them up short at first with a quick release knot - I left Blizzard tied on too long a rope and she broke her horn jumping around - and keep an eye on them so they don't go down and get stuck. If you can put down sawdust to give a grippy floor so much the better.

I can now halter Breeze easily. Blizzard is a wee bit less easy. But both walk quite nicely. NOW - I haven't let them out yet and I won't be using a halter to get them to the field for the first time. But once they are out, I plan to halter them daily and bring them in to be fed as they will be when they are milking.

I suppose if you don't have time, you can lassoo them, wrestle them to a stop, stick on the halter and tie them to the back of a tractor  ;D Actually, I think lots of folk use a tractor to get them moving as you really don't want them to get away from you. My vet said they used to do it at home but they used the tractor in reverse, since it was safer that way. Also someone was at the beast's head, giving the impression of being the leader.

You can get a thing called a humbug, which is like a removeable nose ring. This can be a useful "belt and braces" and gives additional control. Lots of folk who show use them on cows (bulls will usually have a real nose ring) as extra security. If you do decide to use one, get the heifers used to it while they are tied up on halters before you try and lead with it.

Be patient but persistant. Remember, you are a predator and they are prey - and they know this, so it's a big ask for them to allow you to halter them. If they are uncomfortable and don't co-operate, don't get cross with them. They aren't doing it to annoy / humiliate / irritate you - cows don't do that - they are trying to stay alive. So if it's not going well, quit, give them some feed and a scratch and try again tomorrow.

Happy haltering!

Nina

  • Joined Sep 2010
  • North/Mid wales
Re: halter training
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2011, 05:08:04 pm »
Or alternatively get them in a race/crush enough to get the halters onto them and then tie them to something VERY sturdy (tractor etc!)... Leave with food/water until they've calmed.  Repeat and they'll soon associate halters with food and pleasentries...  Achieving walking with them should start to come as they get used to the halters and when you're putting them on and taking them to where tied etc.

At 18 months, depending on breed, they may be strong, big cattle - So your safety is paramount.  How quickly you succeed will depend on their current natures, greediness etc...  But safest to not try and handle them initially alone.  ;)

Dan

  • The Accidental Smallholder
  • Administrator
  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Carnoustie, Angus
    • The Accidental Smallholder
    • Facebook
Re: halter training
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2011, 08:00:23 am »
Here's how Rosemary was getting on after a few weeks:

Halter training Shetland cattle

We've got some more recent video which I'll post soon.

rab macablo

  • Joined Jan 2011
Re: halter training
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2011, 05:50:31 pm »
Thanks very much. Thats all very interesting.
By coincidence I used to have a herd of Shetland cows up to about 6 years ago, when I sold them all to get me out of a financial fix. I didnt try to train any of them though, I just kept them on the hillside and did every thing I needed to them in an old crush.

c.m.c

  • Joined Sep 2010
Re: halter training
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2011, 09:41:43 pm »
when i halter train my  cows i start by feed them out a bucket so they start to trust you next start with my rope and tie them up for about 20 to 30 mins evry day for about a week and just work from thair  good luck mind keep your toes out the way

rab macablo

  • Joined Jan 2011
Re: halter training
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2011, 08:00:36 am »
I have just installed some self locking yokes. Do you think I should put the halters on when they are shut in there, tie off the rope then let them out?

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: halter training
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2011, 11:43:56 am »
I suppose so long as there is nothing they can get a leg through or caught on, I don't see why not.

princesspiggy

  • Guest
Re: halter training
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2011, 12:05:47 pm »
they are gorgeous, rosemary, nice and chunky!! ours followed us for a walk round the farm yesterday, its usually the pigs that come! one was mooing alot, now shes bulling, i wonder if she was calling for a bull?

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: halter training
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2011, 02:32:36 pm »
Breeze was desperately noisy the other day and wanted lots of attention. Next day she was mounting Blizzard, so she was in season.

faith0504

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • take it easy and chill
    • blaemuir cottage
Re: halter training
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2011, 05:39:03 pm »
Breeze and Blizzard are lovely, enjoyed watching the video  :wave:

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: halter training
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2011, 05:50:06 pm »
Breeze and Blizzard are lovely, enjoyed watching the video  :wave:

Oh, there's more. Much more. You'll get bored before I do  ;D

waterhouse

  • Guest
Re: halter training
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2011, 06:57:48 pm »
Oh this is so interesting.  Thanks for showing it

 

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