Posts Tagged ‘Taming a cow’

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Stanchion training

September 16, 2008

I am so excited about this morning’s training session!   I was able to put lead ropes on both girls without any problems at all.  And since Maggie was showing no fear of the stanchion I tied up Matilda first and tried luring Maggie into the stanchion first.    I coaxed her in within a few short minutes and she even worked out how to twist her head so her horns would fit through the headgate.    I was only hoping to get her onto the platform today, never dreamed I’d be able to feed her through the headgate on the first try!

Matilda was a little more reluctant to step into the stanchion, but with some light pressure on the lead rope and a few apples for incentive she soon had her head through the headgate too!   In fact she seemed less nervous once her head was through.  Of course it is as wide open as it can possibly be at this point.

Since they did so well on their first trip into the stanchion, I’m going to hold off on putting the second rail on.  But I do need to figure out a way to tie them while they are in the stanchion so I can start working on getting them used to being touched on their legs, bellies and udders.

What a blessing to have a large supply of apples given to us, it makes the training sessions go so much more smoothly and it isn’t costing me a small forturne in treats eitehr!

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Milk Stanchion Training

September 14, 2008

Friday afternoon we got the milking stanchion moved into place in the cow shelter.  Not suprisingly the girls kept their distance from it, although within a few hours Matilda just had to go take a closer look.   Saturday morning I fed them apples next to it, and then left them a flake of hay on the platform.   This morning I placed their chopped apples on the platform too.

My first goal is to get them used to being around this strange new thing.   In another day or two I will try to coax Matilda onto it with food, but if that doesn’t work after a couple of days worth of trying then I will have to hook on the lead rope and be a bit more persuasive.  The reason for the focus on Matilda is that I hope to get her AI’d during her next heat which should fall right about Oct 1st.   And for that she has to either be trained for the stanchion or I have to rent a squeeze chute.   I don’t plan to breed Maggie until January so I have a little more time to convince her that standing in it is a good thing.

And speaking of breeding, I’m still trying to figure out the best course of action and what bull to ultimately use.  Costs are higher than I was originally quoted, so I’m having to do some careful planning.  Hopefully I will get an order placed tomorrow so that I will be guaranteed of having the straws here when the time comes.

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Progress with Maggie

September 10, 2008

Matilda has been letting me touch her back pretty much whenever there is food in front of her.  Maggie on the other hand has only let me grab her halter and hold her while I briefly touch her shoulder – if apples are the treat involved.

Yesterday I was so behind schedule that I just tossed the apples over the fences and went on with the rest of the chores.  Today I went into the pasture to hand feed them like I normally do, and Maggie allowed me to touch her shoulder and back without my having to hold the halter! Behold the power of APPLES!

Thankfully the neighbor that we had gotten the apples from called yesterday and said she had a friend with an apple tree that wanted to know if we wanted some for the animals!  Oh yeah!

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Apple peels

August 29, 2008

Yesterday my mom and I put up around 50 quarts of applesauce (I lost count after 40) and the critters on the “ranch” were the recipients of the leavings.    I wish I could have taken video of the cows trying to eat the peelings.   It was like watching a comedic rendition of some one trying to eat a never ending tangle of pasta.

By the time I got home last night I was so beat that the thought of carrying water down the hill to Maggie and moving her post and pounding it into another spot…. etc, etc was just too much and I decided I’d see how she reacted to me and if she behaved I was going to turn her loose.    She allowed to me touch her without holding on to her lead rope, so she was turned loose to the pasture.

This morning both she and Matilda were waiting at the fence for me.   I’m guessing they could smell their second helping of apples peelings coming.   Koozy also got into the mix and chased the cows off of the first bit of apples.  Maggie ran into the open corral and Matilda (who shared apples with Koozy last night) just ambled off a few feet.   I gave her a pile of apples and she allowed me to stroke her back while she was eating.   Then I took the rest over to Maggie,  she allowed me to touch her briefly and was rewarded with her own heap of apples.

I will keep working with the girls on allowing me close, but I think I can safely say that step one of turning them into family milk cows is complete.   The next step will be training them to enter the milking stanchion and allowing me to touch their lower body.

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Unusual Weather…

August 19, 2008

After a unseasonably hot spell last week we started having thunderstorms which is even more rare in this area.  We had thunder rumbling along with the occasional fast and furious rain showers most of yesterday.   The thunder rumbling was making all of the critters a little jumpy and I wasn’t too keen on being out in it myself so I didn’t do any more than feed yesterday.

Sometime Sunday evening Matilda managed to get her lead rope off.  There is no damage to it, so she must have had Maggie’s help.   I didn’t clean the corral or work with them at all yesterday due to the weather, so today they had to adjust to me in a rain jacket.   Blessedly Matilda is such a chow hound that a few chunks of alfalfa cubes and I was able to grab a hold of her halter and lead her over to where I had hung up her lead rope.

I have to tie them both up when I’m working with them or the untied one will harass the tied one and me looking for a handout.   Matilda quickly adjusted to the sight and sound of my rain jacket, but it took Maggie a little longer before she was willing to stand for “touch before treat”.  Overall she did really well.

When I was done I released Matilda from the lead rope, since she was easy enough to catch this morning I figure there is no need for it now.  Maybe by next week I can start letting her out to pasture during the day.   Alhtough I’m not sure how she will react to being seperated from Maggie.  And of course it will require a reintroduction to Koozy.

Speaking of Koozy he just loves Bekah!  She is the one that brings him treats twice a day while I’m working with the cows and she is also the one that usually brushes him.   He will bray when he sees her coming, but otherwise barely makes a sound.

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Finally some progress with Maggie!

August 15, 2008

I was very pleased with this evenings training session.  Matilda will now allow me to touch on either side while tied and will allow me to touch her when she is untied on her left side when eating grain but not hay.   Apparently hay isn’t worth the intrusion.

Maggie, on the other hand, has not progressed much at all until today.  Tonight I really worked on the “touch before treat”.  She started out fighting and moving and gradually settled a wee bit.  But every time I would go get another handful of treats we would have to start over almost from zero.

I got tired of that and would offer the touch/treat and if she moved out of reach I stepped back and didn’t offer her anything.  She eventually caught on and would move her body back over into reach, but harrumphed at me most every time.  🙂   Eventually I was able to run my hand the full length of her back.  And then was able to keep stroking her back/shoulder while she was chewing without her stepping away.

Needless to say I am feeling renewed sense of hope that I will eventually be able to turn these two into some good family milk cows.   Providing of course that they turn out to have decent udders and milk production.

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Touch before treats!

August 12, 2008

This morning I tried something a little different with the heifers.   I tied them both up short and this time they didn’t get any treats until I was able to touch them.

For the past few days I haven’t had time to tie them, so Maggie was really regressing and she wasn’t too happy about this morning’s lesson either.  She allowed only brief touches on the first try, but after a break where I left to go eat breakfast (I can watch them from the breakfast table.) she was much more receptive and I was able to touch her on both the right and left and actually ran my hand along her spine almost all the way back to her tail.

As for Matilda she has been doing fine with touching even when untied as long as there is food in front of her and I don’t try to approach on her right side.  So this mornings lesson for her also invovled being approached and touched on that side before receiving the treat.  She is such a chow hound that I think I will probably be able to remove the lead rope from her by next week and still be able to catch her – at least in the corral.

Thanks to all of you that have left comments or emailed me with encouragement and suggestions on the taming process.  I really appreciate it!