How long to tie daily?

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Well-known member
Aug 21, 2011
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Ne Kansas
I'm very new at show steers and this year my 9 year old son wants to show a big steer, my question is, how long "daily" should a steer be tied? The fairs not until august but I want the steer to be dead broke before I let my son show him. I'm a little cautious about his size compared to the steers size anyways. I'm thinking that I can tie him in the morning before I leave for work and my wife can untie him at noon when she comes home for lunch. Or if he'll be ok until I get home at 3:30 in the afternoon? I've done a search but no results for my question.
If he's sound, and gets plenty of room to exercise at night, there's nothing wrong with leaving him tied all day. He does need to get used to being tied for long periods before he gets to a show, but leaving him tied just for the sake of being tied isn't really proving a whole lot - working with him is what will help him handle better for your son. If you're trying to grow hair, then it makes sense to leave him tied somewhere cool - at least in the shade with a fan. Especially in the heat of the day.

We'll start showing the first part of August. Market steers (for Tulsa State Fair around October 1st) we'll start around the first of July rinsing right after lunch and keeping tied under fans 'til close to dark. As we get closer we start earlier and keep them in 'til it cools off, rinsing up to 3 or 4 times a day. You'll get as many different routines as you get answers, but by the first of August, we try to rinse each steer for 15 minutes at a time (our well water gets pretty cold) then tie them with their heads up under fans and comb and then brush (with a rice root) them forward. We usually have 2 - 4, so by the time we get done rinsing, the first ones are pretty dry - then blow them out. At least once a day spray in a light coat of show sheen with a little fly spray mixed in. Be sure to comb, brush and blow that in too. We like to leave their heads tied up for at least a couple of hours at least once (usually twice) a day - they need to get used to standing with their heads up, not just to show, but for clipping and fitting as well. Additionally, if they're used to standing 'til they're tired, they learn to lay down as soon as they're tied down - may not sound like a big deal, but you'll be glad they do when you have to get to a show early to exercise, feed and wash and then have an hour before you need to start getting him ready. He'll look and act so much better if he'll lay right down and rest instead of standing then getting tired and fidgety by the time he gets to the ring.

I know this is way more than you asked for, and it sounds like a lot of work. It is - it'll mean early mornings and late nights, but if it's worth doing it's worth doing right. Good luck!
Very detailed, thanks a lot! I may just start tying when I get home. I thought you wanted to get him used to being tied, is the only reason I was gonna tie him all day.
I have never shown, but I agree that just leaving him tied up isn't really going to make him workable. He's gotta learn to lead (er, follow!), and get used to all sorts of sights and sounds too. On my replacement heifers I start them on a halter at about a month old, and try to always lead them to a place they want to go.. IE, into a place where there's greener grass or they can play, and then when they get tired of that, they'll wany mommy again, so I lead them back. Most of them now I can easily lead with just a piece of bale twine. I got mine used to clippers too (I have big noisy ones), and they've got it figured out that it feels good and they don't spook around it.
Also, get him used to moving his feet where you want them, and without kicking

Good luck with him :)
Good advice above...

The only addition I will make is that if he isn't good and halter broken, don't leave him unattended for hours. We started by tying for about an hour in the evenings (while we were doing other chores), then lead them to feed or water, a treat, etc. and let them get used to being tied for short periods first. They will try to lay down, sometimes kick around a bit and if that happens, someone needs to be close by to untie them before they hurt themselves.

Funny that nesikep mentioned desensitizing daughter's heifer still gives a little hop/skip at every wheel barrow she sees. Rattle feed sacks around his head, play a radio, clap, etc until he no longer jumps at those sounds...I've seen several react negatively when the crowd claps and when the judge starts talking a class, because they've never heard those sounds before.

Good luck and have fun!
When we starts calves, we bring them in, halter them, tie them with their head up and blow them out, move to wash rack and rinse, then comb and blow them dry, they stand there tied as the feed is prepped and the pen is cleaned. When they are moved back to the run, the boys stop and make them set up with a show stick, the calves don't get turned loose until they set up. At first this can take a while but as they figure out the faster they cooperate the faster they get turned loose, some calves will start setting up when you stop. The hands on work with the animal, seems to calm them down a lot faster than anything else.

When halter breaking we will start by tying them but for a short period of time and only when you can be there to keep an eye on them.

For the last 3 months prior to county fair, they get tied from sun-up to sun set, they are rinsed and blown out in the morning then fed in the stall, fans on them all day, rinsed and blown out in the evening, turned out at dark. Once it heat up around here the calves are at the gate waiting to come in in the morning. Shade, fans and no flies, can you really blame them.

A good daily routine is the best thing to get them calmed down, if you're not rinsing, at least brushing, and handling them daily will work. We get them on a schedule and then keep them on it, even at the show, feed at 6 and 6, groom them the same times each day, they seem to do better on a set schedule.

The last 3 months we will tie them with their heads up for about 2 hours a day, this is so they get used to it, at the show they may spend an hour in the grooming chute, then go stand for another hour waiting for their class, if a calf has not been tied with their head up, they get tired and want to lay down on you in the ring. I have found that tying one mush longer than 2 hours strait seems to do more harm than good on them. They may end up being tied with their head up for 4 or more hours a day, between just tying and then all the rinsing, blowing, and brushing just not in a row.

Hope that helps
Working with them regularly is more important than how long they're tied on a given day. An hour or two in the evenings when you come home from work and spend some time brushing the calf with your son is sufficient. At this point you're just teaching the calf to stand tied, be haltered and handled (assuming he doesn't know this already). Later you can work on teaching him to stand with his head tied up. Plan on conditioning him to gradually stand tied longer hours - they're not like horses, which can sleep standing with minimal effort.

If he's tied comfortably and he's trained to tie there's no reason he can't stand tied for part of the day as you described. Make sure he's not just tied, but you're taking advantage of the time to work around him and get him used to being touched, handled, etc.
All good responses, thanks guys, he is broke and I can lead him anywhere around the yard but I just thought that by tying him for several hours a day then he'll be used to it by fair time. Thanks for all the positive responses.

One thing I do on my replacement heifer calves is I put a halter on them, with about a 10 foot or so lead, and let them drag it around... once in while a cow will step on it, and she'll have to stop and wait, and she'll get the idea it's no use fussing about it... When they all get turned out to pasture, I put a bell on some of them.. I think it sounds nice to hear them, and they also get used to sounds close to them. Replacement heifers also get lots of pettings, a bit everywhere, but the belly and udder are important, and I once in a while make them give me their hoof.

I had to steal some colostrum from a cow yesterday, and she's not really a tame cow, she's had minimal work done with her, and she's not halterbroke at all, and she didn't want me stealing her milk,.. I followed her around a bit, and then found the secret to her heart was giving her a belly rub before milking her, then she stood still for it and I was able to get my quart.

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