I've seen about everything from wacking them with a stick to pulling them with a tractor. What we do with those that the normal tug and release method doesn't work with is to hook a chain (light weight dog type)over their back and around behind them so that it is in a loop with the rear part riding just above the hocks. When they won't move we jerk on the chain so that it applies pressure from behind. We use that along with a tap on the top of the tail head and the verbal command "gitup" to train oxen (actually working steers). Doesn't take long and either the verbal command with the tap on the tail head gets them started. Before long all it takes is either the verbal or light tap. The key is to also teach "whoa".
I assume you're taking him to the local fair for 4-H or FFA?
I asked our 4-H leader the same thing, my daughter wants to break two of our calves for fair next year. She suggested that to halter break them first, get the halter on and tie them to a post - leave them there for a few days. Make sure they have access to feed and can move around though. Several times a day walk your animal to water, he'll be thirsty and water will motivate him to move the way you're leading him.
After a while, he'll get the hang of it and will be easier to work with.
What dun said sounds good too. That's how we get some of our animals to move when we need them to.
Ok...so much for the dragging a calf around with a tractor or draft horse. There is a longstanding "Learning" principle that has been proven time and time again with all animal subjects, including humans. That principle states that: "An organism (animal) tends to repeat those behaviors that it perceives as reinforcing." In lay terms: "Give me a good reason to do something!" People are "trained" with tangible and intangible rewards--both at home and at work.
What we are attempting to do with "animal" behavior is to creat a situation in which the animal "wants" to do something (or to please us). Coercion, force, punishment, and all can frequently be met with resistance (Re: Newton's 2nd Law of motion--for each action there is an equal and opposite reaction).
Others have used (as we have also) Positive Reinforcement to train and motivate our cattle and horses. There is a "secret" that is called "FOOD". The 4-legged critters are highly motivated with food--especially special treats. When an animal is a little hungry, you can present cubes, small bit of alfalfa hay, or other treat and the animal will come to you and let you hand feed it. When an animal is eating their "ration" then you can usually touch, groom, and/or halter them (unless they are truly wild).
I totally disagree with the aversive "conditioning" methods (i.e., tying up till you break their spirit, hot-shock sticks, and the like). You want the animal to WANT TO do the thing or behavior on his/her own; and, to please you as the Alpha animal.
Start "training" soon after calving or foaling. Get them used to you, your voice, being touched all over, being hand-fed, and all. These animals are a heck of a lot smarter than some will admit and they can be effectively trained with positive reinforcement.
Enuf said. Bill, retired behavioral psychologist and present breeder/raiser of registered gaited horses and longhorn cattle.
I couldn't agree with you more, Bill. We had some FFA boys over one day to halter break a heifer we had donated to our local FFA members. They had never before done anything but the old "put the lead rope over your shoulder and drag the calf and if that doesn't work, tie it to the tractor or pickup and drag the calf."
I told them they had to do it my way, so they agreed. Within 30 minutes, they were able to lead that heifer, and she was a 700# weanling that had never been handled before. This heifer had literally dragged them out of the corral when they first approached her, but was calmly led back to her corral an hour later, after being brushed and hand fed.
I totally disagree with tying the calf up for several days. If that's what it takes to halter break your calf, you don't have the patience needed to do the job. Or, you've picked a calf that is lacking genetics for docility. If the genetics are lacking, get another calf, or look for a more docile breed next time around. Learn from the experience.
Cows have very long memories. A calf that is badly handled is going to remember that treatment and is going to be harder to re-train. I say re-train because bad treatment is the first training it received.
The basics - use two LONG lead ropes the first time or two, with one person on each one. One to teach the calf to lead, and one person for insurance so the calf can't get away. Cross tie the calf and brush her with a soft, long handled dairy type brush. Offer her grain in your hand, if you can. When leading, tug on the lead rope and verbally encourage her to move forward. At the FIRST SIGN of forward movement, INSTANTLY release the pressure on the lead rope as a reward. Without the reward, anything else you do is useless.
Even one step qualifies as forward movement. Praise the calf. Place shallow feed pans about 30 feet apart and put a scant handful of grain in each feed pan - just a taste. Praise the calf. Slowly work the calf to the first feed pan and give it time to discover and eat the food. Praise the calf. Work the calf to the second feed pan and give it time to discover and eat the food. Praise the calf. By the third or fourth feed pan, the calf will move forward without hesitation. As training progresses, move the feed pans further apart and eventually you don't have to put grain in every one, or even use the feed pans. If the calf gets rambunctious, wrap the lead rope under your butt and hang on, letting the calf run in a circle. Start over again.
I've written out my method of halter breaking a calf. If you want a copy, email <A HREF="mailto:[email protected]">[email protected]</A> (remove the words nospam) and I'll email you a copy.
> Ok...so much for the dragging a
> calf around with a tractor or
> draft horse. There is a
> longstanding "Learning"
> principle that has been proven
> time and time again with all
> animal subjects, including humans.
> That principle states that:
> "An organism (animal) tends
> to repeat those behaviors that it
> perceives as reinforcing." In
> lay terms: "Give me a good
> reason to do something!"
> People are "trained"
> with tangible and intangible
> rewards--both at home and at work.
> What we are attempting to do with
> "animal" behavior is to
> creat a situation in which the
> animal "wants" to do
> something (or to please us).
> Coercion, force, punishment, and
> all can frequently be met with
> resistance (Re: Newton's 2nd Law
> of motion--for each action there
> is an equal and opposite
> Others have used (as we have also)
> Positive Reinforcement to train
> and motivate our cattle and
> horses. There is a
> "secret" that is called
> "FOOD". The 4-legged
> critters are highly motivated with
> food--especially special treats.
> When an animal is a little hungry,
> you can present cubes, small bit
> of alfalfa hay, or other treat and
> the animal will come to you and
> let you hand feed it. When an
> animal is eating their
> "ration" then you can
> usually touch, groom, and/or
> halter them (unless they are truly
> I totally disagree with the
> aversive "conditioning"
> methods (i.e., tying up till you
> break their spirit, hot-shock
> sticks, and the like). You want
> the animal to WANT TO do the thing
> or behavior on his/her own; and,
> to please you as the Alpha animal.
> Start "training" soon
> after calving or foaling. Get them
> used to you, your voice, being
> touched all over, being hand-fed,
> and all. These animals are a heck
> of a lot smarter than some will
> admit and they can be effectively
> trained with positive
> Enuf said. Bill, retired
> behavioral psychologist and
> present breeder/raiser of
> registered gaited horses and
> longhorn cattle.
> I also believe in positive reinforcement. I halter break all our calves (approx. 25-30 a year). As a result of positive reinforcement and patience I can do about anything with our cattle. If they get through a fence they are easy to catch and bring home. Once a cow (male or female) is halter broke, I feel that they are broke for life....they don't forget those basic lessons. Believe it or not, as a result, my cattle, including my 2 year old clean up bull, will come into the chute willingly, unhaltered and stand till his head is pinched. This is very time consuming, but in the long run you benefit. Maybe I'm crazy, but I think that my AI conception rate is even higher since my cattle are less stressed with 'hands on' practices. REMEMBER...Positive reinforcement doesn't cost you a cent....only your time!
Thanks Becky & Linda for your "reinforcement" that the training/learning notion of "Positive Reinforcement" works! We work our Longhorns, especially the calves & yearlings, sometimes monthly to measure horn, weigh, etc. We can get them into the corral, and chute without problems and always bait them with goodies before, during, and after their being worked. Also let some wander through the corral and chutes on their own in their personal leisure time. Our chutes and corral are NOT perceived as being a threat or punishment--but, as one more place to get food goodies and wander around on their own. We have also been able to "cut out" one or more calves, bulls, or cows by calling their name and using treats. They will also respond to hand signals in some cases. As John Lyons continually promotes with his horse training, the objective is to not hurt the horse, not get hurt yourself, and for you and the horse to be calmer after training: I feel these principles also apply to cattle.
Many of the principles used for horses also work for cattle. Not all, but some of it is very similar.
Much of the "trick" in training is to learn what the instincts of the animals are, and then use those instincts to train. If you make what you want done easier for the animal than the other options, it's ultimately easier on you.
We have a filly we're training who is very much an ADD filly. I think her attention span could have been measured in seconds when we started working with her. She now responds to the voice and hand command of "Look at me" by looking directly at the trainer. By concentrating on the trainer, she is less likely to shy or be suddenly frightened. I've raised 4 severely ADD kids, and the principle used to teach this horse is really no different. If they're not looking at you, they don't hear you. LOL
One of our cows went through a hole in the fence in a new pasture a few years ago. Dan walked up to the fence, reached over and put the halter on the cow, and led her from his side of the fence down to a gate.
> Thanks Becky & Linda for your
> "reinforcement" that the
> training/learning notion of
> "Positive Reinforcement"
> works! We work our Longhorns,
> especially the calves &
> yearlings, sometimes monthly to
> measure horn, weigh, etc. We can
> get them into the corral, and
> chute without problems and always
> bait them with goodies before,
> during, and after their being
> worked. Also let some wander
> through the corral and chutes on
> their own in their personal
> leisure time. Our chutes and
> corral are NOT perceived as being
> a threat or punishment--but, as
> one more place to get food goodies
> and wander around on their own. We
> have also been able to "cut
> out" one or more calves,
> bulls, or cows by calling their
> name and using treats. They will
> also respond to hand signals in
> some cases. As John Lyons
> continually promotes with his
> horse training, the objective is
> to not hurt the horse, not get
> hurt yourself, and for you and the
> horse to be calmer after training:
> I feel these principles also apply
> to cattle.