March 25, 2013

Training cattle

A few weeks ago, ten pregnant cows were brought to the farm. Since they arrived, one has delivered a beautiful bull calf and we're waiting for the rest to calve.

One of our first priorities was to train the cattle and to gain their trust.  Yes, you can train cattle. They must come when we call them.  We must have that control over them;  not just for rotational grazing but also for their own safety.  It is an imperative that they answer when we call them.

We also need them to trust us and not run away from us.  With cows ready to give birth, if something goes wrong, we need to know that our presence will not add more stress to the cow in an already stressful situation. The last thing we need is a cow fighting us when we're trying to help her push out a calf.

Just like with most animals, food is the great motivator.  We raise and finish our cattle on pasture, but in order to train these cows and to get them used to our presence, we call them up to the barn once or twice a day with the lure of sweet feed laced with mineral supplements from time to time.

So. How do you call cattle? Any call will work as long as you're consistent, but we shout out, "WHIRRRRLLLLLL"

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