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Old 04-09-2007, 02:43 PM  
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Halter Breaking Cattle...

I have been showing cattle for about ten years or so. I usually hand break mine but I have been told a lot of people either use donkeys to break their show cattle or just tie them up for a few hours (supervised of course) then lead them to water or eat. My problem is when I first start breaking my calves and try to tie them up they pull the halters so tight on their faces it wears the hair off. I am afraid that it might cause sores if I keep tying them. Does anyone have this problem or have any ideas about what I could do so they arent pulling directly on the halter?
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Old 04-09-2007, 02:44 PM  
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Ah, you need to speak with QuarterCowGirl - she is the Bovine Master...
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Old 04-09-2007, 02:46 PM  
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I thought about that while I was posting lol. I was kind of hoping she would respond. Have you ever had any problems like this with any of your foals?
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Old 04-09-2007, 02:48 PM  
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No, because we don't tie them until they learn to give to pressure by leading.. and then we use the CA tie ring - it might work with cows too
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Old 04-09-2007, 02:54 PM  
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Hmm...might have to think about that. That is usually what I do with my calves but this year I have quite a few bulls that need worked with and then two heifers to break. IMO, heifers are a more of a pain in the backside than bulls are to break. But I don't want any of them to get hurt at all. So im stumped.
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Old 04-09-2007, 02:58 PM  
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I have been tying my new born calves to the wall for years. I use a calf collar. I would imagine if I wanted to use a halter that it would be easier to go from collar to halter as they are already used to being constrained.

I'm not into showing so I don't train to a halter but I have a halter lead rope that I use on an occasion with little difficulty.

How old are your calves?
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Old 04-09-2007, 03:04 PM  
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Usually I catch them at a couple days old and start breaking them but with the winter we had I just didn't have time. The heifers are my main problem. One is close to six months and the other is about 5 months. I thought about a collar or lariat...but im afraid that would choke them worse than the halters. I could be wrong about that though. They aren't wild at all and they do fine if someone is on the other end of the rope but they do not want to give to that halter at all lol. They are stubborn as old mules!
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Old 04-09-2007, 03:05 PM  
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You have to start early, and it's just like training a horse to lead. My cousin had a lead steer that was broke to halter. They haltered him and left a drag line on him so he learned to give to pressure. Every day they'd pick up the drag line and hold it and spend about a half hour working with him. They kept him in the holding pen they used for roping steers. After about a month or so, she could lead him all over the arena with no problems. Time and patience are the key.

I would never just tie up an animal that wasn't accustomed to leading, I don't care if it was a cow, horse or even a dog that I liked. Though it might be a shortcut/timesaver at the time, there is NO REPLACEMENT for time and patience when it comes to working with livestock.

Unless of course it was an absolute emergency, such as the gelding Cascy had that wouldn't stay in the fence and was attacking her other horses. In that situation, all bets are off.
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Old 04-09-2007, 03:12 PM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbarmranch
No, because we don't tie them until they learn to give to pressure by leading.. and then we use the CA tie ring - it might work with cows too
I guess I should have just said 'I agree with Gbar'
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Old 04-09-2007, 03:22 PM  
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Yeah I hate to say it but if a horse acted like Cascy at our place it wouldnt be there long. Both of these girls are still with their moms so its kind of hard to leave a drag line on either of them. Both of their moms are halter broke so the main thing im doing right now is having someone lead mom and then baby follows. Then when they are weaned they dont rely on mom anymore but they know us from messing with them. I don't ever leave them tied for a long period of time or unsupervised. Actually, most of the time when they are tied we are grooming them or something like that. Its kind of important that they learn to stand tied because at shows and fairs they basically spend nearly three days standing and laying tied to a fence. Although if they werent broke to tie by then they would probably be broke by the time they left lol
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Old 04-09-2007, 03:30 PM  
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Its pretty much like halter breaking a foal. Give and release to pressure.

Showing bulls in our family has been forever.
My father had a national ch. brahma bull.

We taught them young, give and release to pressure before ever tieing them.
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Old 04-09-2007, 03:48 PM  
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My next suggestion would be a head stanchion.

When they give to the pressure my husband gives them grain. It doesn't take long for them to figure it out. We don't use force to get them in the stanchion. Rather we lure them in with grain. They are in it for a few minutes at first then we gradually increase the time to several hours. I would start there being they are older calves. At that age they are to strong and can pull a collar apart. Always end on a positive note. You don't want to release a cow from the stanchion while it is struggling to get free.
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Old 04-09-2007, 03:56 PM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StefanieLeann14
I don't ever leave them tied for a long period of time or unsupervised. Actually, most of the time when they are tied we are grooming them or something like that.
Doesn't matter. A bad experience while being tied can happen when you're right there next to them or in the house cooking dinner. I would never recommend tying any animal that wasn't at least basically leading and halter broke. Period. Though I will side with Gbar and say that Clinton Anderson's tie-thingy looks like it could work if used correctly. But I still wouldn't use it on an animal that wasn't bascially halter broke.

That's just me though. I like an animal I can trust to not pull back and hurt itself, ever. And that starts with patience and time, not with shortcuts.
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Old 04-09-2007, 04:03 PM  
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Its not really a shortcut. Just a method a few older showmen have been talking about. I just never tried it because I always had the summer off to hand break mine. I have left them tied before but it was always when we were doing something with them.

Farmergal-I like that suggestion but im not sure how it would work for me... I had a charolais heifer I lured with grain and I couldnt get her to do anything without grain or cubes. I had to keep cubes in my pockets all the time and the whole time we were in the arena she was trying to eat my jeans off of me It wasn't a good idea with that heifer but it may work with my others. I will have to see. Thanks.
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Old 04-09-2007, 05:58 PM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbarmranch
Ah, you need to speak with QuarterCowGirl - she is the Bovine Master...
Wow thanks Val!

I like to start my calves out young. I let them suck on my fingers and get them to follow me around that way. They'll follow me through the barn, outside, back the lane etc... I don't use a halter until they're about 3 months old and they take it in stride. I've never had any problem with hair rubbing off or anything.

I've heard of other people that halter broke 6 month old heifers by tying them to the back of a truck and driving forward slowly. The calves learned to give in and they were halter trained in a matter of hours.
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Old 04-09-2007, 09:01 PM  
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Re: Halter Breaking Cattle...

Quote:
Originally Posted by StefanieLeann14
I have been showing cattle for about ten years or so. I usually hand break mine but I have been told a lot of people either use donkeys to break their show cattle or just tie them up for a few hours (supervised of course) then lead them to water or eat. My problem is when I first start breaking my calves and try to tie them up they pull the halters so tight on their faces it wears the hair off. I am afraid that it might cause sores if I keep tying them. Does anyone have this problem or have any ideas about what I could do so they arent pulling directly on the halter?
When I was in college (way back when ). We halter broke yearling steers as part of the practical learning. They tought us to tie them up. Course they were a lot larger then 5 or 6 month old calves. But still a calf is a calf and he's going to learn the same way. It's just as yearlings they have a lot more strength and you need a stonger post . It was quiet entertaining watching the students that wern't raised around cattle (the grain growers get dragged around, sometimes clinging to the rope as the went wizzing down the alley ). We had to rerun a few back through the squeeze till everyone got theirs tied up to posts. Growing up we learned the same, tie them up for a while till they learn pulling's not going to do anything but wear them out.

If you're wearing the hair off maybe don't tie them up for so long. We usually did 1/2 hour intervals. Eventually after a few they'd just start to stand there. Also what kind of halter are you using. We just used home made one's out of nylon rope. Worked just fine. I don't remember any wearing off of hair.
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Old 04-10-2007, 06:34 AM  
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When I was showing we used to tie them to tire inner tubes that was tied to a large tree limb. It workes just like a bungee cord. They actually learned really fast on the give and release.
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Old 04-16-2007, 01:44 PM  
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You have to start early, and it's just like training a horse to lead.
I disagree with this, although it is a lot easier when they are young. I have taught completely wild, 700+ lb (that is nearly full-grown for Jerseys) heifers to lead without any problems. It took me over two hours to catch her, however. But once she was caught I tied her up with some hay in reach and left her until she was thirsty. Then for about three days I led her to water and after that she was the best show animal that I have ever had. Many of my 4-H’ers have done this with their show steers (and even bulls) and it has worked miracles with some of those big boys.

Anyway, every animal is different. You will learn to approach them all differently, even if the difference is only something small. Some we will leave tied, and while everyone thinks this is very dangerous, I have to disagree. I have never had any animal injure itself while tied in all the years that I have been working with cattle. All of our babies get tied in their little hutches until they are off the bottle after all. But back to lead training: Some we will leave tied, some we will leave tied and then lead them to water, some we leave haltered but not tied so they step on their leads and teach themselves to give to pressure, some we tie to other animals or even to 4-wheelers (please note that you go very slowly when tying an animal to a moving vehicle), still others we break like a horse (that is driving from behind, and let me tell you, seriously challenging with a cow but essential when teaching a cow/steer to pull a cart!), but most we just drag around until they get it, and since most actually like going for walks, the majority will just follow you on their own, especially the calves who have been brought up in loving environments where they learn to enjoy human company. As I have learned, they are pretty smart animals and the majority will figure it out in no time.

Also, I’ve never had a problem with the halters rubbing off the animal’s fur, either, or even irritating the skin. I use plain rope halters that get tight when the animal pulls and gets loose when they stop pulling. Old, frayed halters get pitched because they stay tight. Only use leather halters for show. For the big, wild ones we use a horse halter that stays on all the time (without those safety, break-away parts) with a heavy duty lead-rope attached AND a rope halter over that (the horse halter being for tying and catching, and the rope halter for leading, but again that is just for the wild, mature cattle that we are training).

Working with cattle is a fun and rewarding experience. When it comes right down to it, there really is no “right” or “wrong”, just like when training horses. Have fun and stay safe.
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Old 04-16-2007, 02:02 PM  
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Since my experience with cattle has been limited to 1.) roping (or attempting to rope them, in my case. 2.) chasing them, either on foot or on horseback 3.) tipping their horns and vaccinating them and 4.) eating them I will humbly differ to those who obviously have more experience with them than I do.

I know that cows and horses are pretty different, I can only say what I would do with a horse, and that is put the animal in a small enclosure with a drag line and work with it every day before I would try tying it. Is that based on any work I've actually done with any bovine? Absolutely not, it's based on work I've done with equines.

Like I said, I'll go along with folks that I know have more experience with them than I do.
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Old 04-16-2007, 02:54 PM  
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I showed beef cattle for 5-6 years and the first year I taught me project (calf) to lead by simply pulling....frustrating YES. I learned that actually tying the to the tractor (close monitoring involved here) and pulling them...they figure out how to walk on a rope quite quickly.

As for tying, you can also get a neck tie that wraps around their neck but again that would have to be something closely monitored at first.
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