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Old 08-21-2012, 06:50 PM
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Good job on the AI.
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:19 PM
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In most rural area's somebody will have a calving school in the spring. Talk to your local vet, they'll have a idea of the closest one.

Our area has one every year, they bring in vets and go through the whole process. Our class had a fake cow (the back half) and fake calf that you hook up the different pulling equipment to pull'em. You learn how to deal with dystocia (the correct term for calving problems) and way's to prevent and deal with it.

We keep our first year heifers close to the barn and check'em off and on all day. If you feed your cattle just after dark, statistically they will calve during the day. If you feed them in the morning or early afternoon more often then not you will have calves born at night. You want calves born during the day. Its warmer, and you can see what's going on. Older cows know the job, been there done that, so they are out on the range, and we check for calves in the morning to tag.

Problem cattle we ship. If a heifer has trouble being a mom, we ship. Problem cattle will have problems again, maybe not the second time, but they will at some point and its just not worth it for us. I'm not talking about too big of calves, that's the bulls fault (you need calving ease bull's for heifers if the bulls EPD shows over a 70 lb birth weight you need to start thinking hard if you want stuck calves.) I'm talking about momma's that don't instinctively start cleaning, nursing, ect. Some of'em just don't get it. So you have to stick the poor bugger on a donor cow, or bottle feed. I could go on and on and on. Go to a calving school.

I've pulled more calves than I can count. I pulled a calf just so I wouldn't miss a movie in town.-WW


ps. On a side note a AI school only costs a couple of hundred bucks. I went, and the next year sent my wife. We AI one breeding group every year. I did friggen awesome this season. My percentage was 85% success to what I AI'd out of 30 head.
This cow was 10 years old, her momma had calves every year from the time she was 3, to the time she was 26. It was my fault, I saw her the day before, and thought she had had her calf, she didn't appear to be in labor. She has to go now though, like somebody said, having a dead calf in her for 24 hours means that she is not worth the risk of keeping. To bad. I am going to be keeping a very close eye on the other cows now though. Most of my cows are 8+ years old, so I have been getting kind of lazy with just letting them do there thing in the woods. I can't afford any more replacement cows with todays prices.
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:54 PM
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This cow was 10 years old, her momma had calves every year from the time she was 3, to the time she was 26. It was my fault, I saw her the day before, and thought she had had her calf, she didn't appear to be in labor. She has to go now though, like somebody said, having a dead calf in her for 24 hours means that she is not worth the risk of keeping. To bad. I am going to be keeping a very close eye on the other cows now though. Most of my cows are 8+ years old, so I have been getting kind of lazy with just letting them do there thing in the woods. I can't afford any more replacement cows with todays prices.
What happened to you we just call "ranchin." We had three calves this year, just vanish. No trace, no tracks, no anything. The cows just showed up dry? "Ranchin" I think cat as the calves were almost three months old, Dad thinks rustlers (he's pretty paranoid in his later day's he-he). I couldnt' find any car tracks or scuffle marks. Who know's? "Ranchin." It does suck either way. I roped, tagged, branded each and every calf we had this year. I was part of the genetic selecting ect. It was a loss to me, more than just a ole'calf.-WW
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:08 PM
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Well, finally My calves arrived 7am friday. Very cold morning, 31 degrees, but sunny.

The guy who delivered them said they were loaded on the trailer with halters, but the breeder kept the halters. So, he backed up the trailer to the big slider on the barn, opened it up, and we coaxed them out of the trailer with a bucket of grain. The calves had the good sense to look around a bit and head right into their stall. Door locked, all safe and secure. Good calves.

All day friday I checked on them hourly. First thing I gave them some alfalfa hay and a tub of water. My husband got home around 6pm and we went and fed them a little grain. We both went in the stall and I held a bucket for the heifer calf, while he held one for the bull calf. The first day I wouldn't go into the stall alone.

It was a very stormy weekend here so we didn't get to do much with the calves beyond feeding and watering them. Just checking on them every 3-4 hours or so. I looked up how to make "cow cookies" treats, and included some ingredients on our grocery list. While we were out shopping I picked up a few halters and collars. Also, picked up 5 huge bags of garden soil. Stopped raining last night, but it was still fairly muddy out this morning.

I mixed up the cow cookies Saturday evening and cooked them up Sunday morning. The calves got one each and really loved them. I'm going to switch between using the bucket, and treats in my pocket. Hopefully they will respond to both kinds of treats.

This morning I walked off (measured by pacing) the area where I need to build a stout bull pen. I should have a shopping list for the construction materials by this weekend. From what I understand, the bull calf will need to be separated by November 8th or so. He will be 6 months old at that time.

My next moves will be to get the halter on each of them. I need to move the bull calf into his own stall, instead of keeping them together.

I also need to work on using the garden soil to fill some holes in the pasture that my dog put there. She has been hunting ground squirrels We probably have half the amount of soil that we need, but more than I will be able to use this week. We can buy 5 more bags next weekend if needed.

I can also tie the calves in their stalls and see how they do with that. I don't know how much training they've already had.

Expecting some company to come out Tuesday and Wednesday this week, so I do hope I'll be able to get some work done with the calves beyond just taking care of them

I hope to get these calves out in the pasture within the next week or two. They can be out there while we construct the bull's area, at least if the weather stays nice.

The photos aren't great. Both animals are much lighter color than they appear. Sunrise, transport guy's trailer, photos of heifer and bull calves. The bull is the darkest of the two.

ETA: The bull calf comes up to my elbow and the heifer calf is about 7 or 8 inches shorter.
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Old 10-15-2012, 11:55 PM
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One tip, don't get the bull too tame. Break to lead, handle him a bunch, etc but don't make a pet out of him. If he gets used to playing with you now, he'll still want to play with you when he's 1800 lbs and can easily break bones with just a throw of the head. I've had my ribs bruised twice from show bulls just from me doing one little stupid thing that put me in a position where I could get hurt. BTW, never doubt the strength they have in their head and neck, I've seen full grown bulls toss other full grown bulls (over 1 ton) 4 or 5 FEET in the air.
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Old 10-17-2012, 07:17 PM
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3. Cows are not horses, don't treat them like one. they react to stimulation differently. horses tend to shy away from pressure, while cows tend to lean into it. Cows can be very affectionate, and they show it by licking.

4. especially with dairy breed, and with any mother about ready to calf, they need lots and lots of calcium and magnesium. I would buy mineral blocks, not salt blocks. (mineral blocks are almost 97% salt, but have trace minerals in them)

9. 1 cup of grain per day will make your cows so much easier to manage. you will be very popular. Call your cows 2 times a week, getting them trained to your voice helps a lot.
Andersed, thanks for all your help. Others reading please feel welcome to chime in if you can help.

I cut up the quote alot to just address the parts that apply to my situation right now.

So far, I am only able to move the calves by getting them to follow the grain bucket. Once I am able to get a halter or collar on them, and clip on a lead rope, should I apply forward pressure or to the side and forward to get them to move forward.

The bull calf is a bigger pig than the heifer calf and will follow me (the grain) anywhere. The heifer will not follow the grain where the bull doesn't go. Right now she is in the bull's stall, and I want her to go back into her own stall, while I have him stay back.

What sort of motion will make one stay in the stall while I take the other one out? I am trying not to hit them if at all possible. They stick together, even though they have only met one another 2 weeks ago. I had a friend watch, and sort of help yesterday, when I moved them out of the dirty stall to clean it. I'm not confident to work with the bull calf while I'm alone, even though he is still quite small. My friend couldn't make the heifer stay back, so she followed the bull into his stall, and didn't want to come back out

I supposed it may take 2 people to separate these guys, and maybe we have to use brute force, but if you know any tricks, I sure would appreciate it.

I have got a range cube in each stall, also water tub, and give them alfalfa hay. Besides that, they get grain or cow cookies* once per day and I talk to them and let them see me every time I go in the barn. They are pretty affectionate and have licked my hands. Also they have let us pet and scratch them a little bit.

I haven't gotten bold with them yet, because I don't want them getting bold with me.

*Cow Cookies adapted from the recipe at the link, but cooked at 250 degrees for 1/2 hour on one side, then flipped and cooked 15 min on the other side. Cut into portions while still warm. Found that the recipe made about 10 dozen.

http://www.dextercattle.org/recipe.htm

Attached photos = label from range block (please say if I got the wrong kind), and the pan of cow cookies spoiled cattle!
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Old 10-17-2012, 07:27 PM
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You have to get BOLD with them and let them know you are the boss. If you dont they will eventually figure out they can get bold with you. It is easier to keep them docile than it is to try and make them that way after they have got their bluff in on you.

Why are you trying to make pets out of them though? I have seen more people get hurt by pet cows than I ever have snorty range cows. If you are going to keep the bull intact, ai highly recommend putting a nose ring on him.

Good luck.

Tex
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Old 10-17-2012, 07:39 PM
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Get you one of these. (I know the pic shows hogs, but they work great on cattle).



I don't know what they're specifically called, we call 'em rattle paddles down here. But they work. You don't have to hit your cattle with them. They rattle and cows and calves will turn away from it in front of their head. You can sort your calves with it.

P.S. Don't ever let your guard down around that bull when he gets full grown. I've known of two men indirectly that were killed by pet bulls. They are not and never will be pets. One guy was 'loved' to death by his bull. The bull pinned him against a wall with his head and liked to rub and he rubbed too hard. The other bull just went off on his owner one day and stomped him to death on purpose. They are unpredictable.
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Old 10-17-2012, 08:03 PM
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You have to get BOLD with them and let them know you are the boss. If you dont they will eventually figure out they can get bold with you. It is easier to keep them docile than it is to try and make them that way after they have got their bluff in on you.

Why are you trying to make pets out of them though? I have seen more people get hurt by pet cows than I ever have snorty range cows. If you are going to keep the bull intact, ai highly recommend putting a nose ring on him.

Good luck.

Tex
Thanks for the advice, I feel I will just have to be bolder with these two.

Both of these animals are registered, genetic tested, and have great bloodlines for Dexters. Dexters are supposed to be known for their gentle disposition.

The heifer I want her friendly so I can milk her, for our dairy needs over the next decade or so. I want to be able to teach her to go out to the pasture and come back at night.

The bull, well I'd like to keep him around and keep him gentle. Having a bull (herd sire) is more self-sufficient than having to depend on AI unless I learn to do that myself :P. I don't mind putting a ring on his nose, nor do I mind banding his horns. Sounds like being bold toward him is what he needs. If he turns mean he's going to be some very expensive beef.

I'm working on plans to build him a pen and a shelter in one corner of the upper pasture, so he won't just be roaming the whole pasture. He doesn't need to learn to come in the barn at night.

I do need to get them apart from one another as the heifer is 6 months old and the bull calf is 5 months. I do not want to breed them for at least another 12 months.

But, I also don't want to do anything at this stage that will ruin his good disposition. He is a sweetie now and will follow me where I want. I actually am having a bigger problem with the heifer because she hides behind him.

The difference between keeping them docile and treating them as pets seems slight??? I guess it's like the difference between discipline and abuse?
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Old 10-17-2012, 08:20 PM
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Get you one of these. (I know the pic shows hogs, but they work great on cattle).



I don't know what they're specifically called, we call 'em rattle paddles down here. But they work. You don't have to hit your cattle with them. They rattle and cows and calves will turn away from it in front of their head. You can sort your calves with it.

P.S. Don't ever let your guard down around that bull when he gets full grown. I've known of two men indirectly that were killed by pet bulls. They are not and never will be pets. One guy was 'loved' to death by his bull. The bull pinned him against a wall with his head and liked to rub and he rubbed too hard. The other bull just went off on his owner one day and stomped him to death on purpose. They are unpredictable.
Thank you I will look for one of those.

The calves have been here since last friday morning (Oct. 12th). So far, I've not turned my back on them while the stall door is open. Matter of fact, I try not to open the stall door unless someone else is with me. I can feed and water them from above. Once they are separated it will be easier for me because I won't be outnumbered. I keep a stick with me to whack them on the nose with if they seem threatening, but so far they are mostly friendly and a little timid.

I almost think I have read so many horror stories about bulls, and that's why I'm being so careful of hurting his feelings. I don't want to cause him to be mean.

I read about cows at these places:

http://dextercattle.proboards.com/index.cgi

http://familycow.proboards.com/index.cgi

http://www.backyardherds.com/forum/index.php

But those forums are not incredibly busy.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 10-17-2012, 08:27 PM
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One tip, don't get the bull too tame. Break to lead, handle him a bunch, etc but don't make a pet out of him. If he gets used to playing with you now, he'll still want to play with you when he's 1800 lbs and can easily break bones with just a throw of the head. I've had my ribs bruised twice from show bulls just from me doing one little stupid thing that put me in a position where I could get hurt. BTW, never doubt the strength they have in their head and neck, I've seen full grown bulls toss other full grown bulls (over 1 ton) 4 or 5 FEET in the air.
He's nearly 500 lbs, so I don't think I'll be playing with him anytime soon. If he just goes where I want him to go, when I want him to go there, I'll be happy enough. I have noticed he moves his head very quick, and is kind of rough when he wants to move the heifer calf.
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Old 10-17-2012, 08:46 PM
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A Wyoming rancher here. Been involved in the cattle business since I was a kid. Now we run a couple hundred head in the Powder River Basin. Ive been reading thru this thread this morning and wish you all luck.

Thyme, with only getting two head, why not buy two heifers and have them AI'd? You will find keeping a bull around is a pain in the butt. Even if he is smaller.

If I can answer any questions, just ask.


Tex
Thanks Tex,

Guess I never answered your question. Money Isn't that the answer to most things!

I mainly got the bull because he was not terribly expensive. I couldn't afford to get 2 heifers this year. His upkeep should cost me about a buck a day when he needs hay, and practically nothing when he is only grazing. Being that cattle are herd animals, I did want my heifer to have some company of her own kind. I may regret it one day, or perhaps I will really get into the cattle and get another heifer next year. If I can get 4 calves from him he will have paid for himself, considering AI is $125 or more per try. That doesn't even include the fact of selling the calves as breeders or for beef.

If I can't handle him I will have to get rid of him. I don't really get attached to farm animals easily. If he's a problem I will sell him or eat him.
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Old 10-20-2012, 04:43 PM
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Andersed, thanks for all your help. Others reading please feel welcome to chime in if you can help.

I cut up the quote alot to just address the parts that apply to my situation right now.

So far, I am only able to move the calves by getting them to follow the grain bucket. Once I am able to get a halter or collar on them, and clip on a lead rope, should I apply forward pressure or to the side and forward to get them to move forward.

The bull calf is a bigger pig than the heifer calf and will follow me (the grain) anywhere. The heifer will not follow the grain where the bull doesn't go. Right now she is in the bull's stall, and I want her to go back into her own stall, while I have him stay back.

What sort of motion will make one stay in the stall while I take the other one out? I am trying not to hit them if at all possible. They stick together, even though they have only met one another 2 weeks ago. I had a friend watch, and sort of help yesterday, when I moved them out of the dirty stall to clean it. I'm not confident to work with the bull calf while I'm alone, even though he is still quite small. My friend couldn't make the heifer stay back, so she followed the bull into his stall, and didn't want to come back out

I supposed it may take 2 people to separate these guys, and maybe we have to use brute force, but if you know any tricks, I sure would appreciate it.

I have got a range cube in each stall, also water tub, and give them alfalfa hay. Besides that, they get grain or cow cookies* once per day and I talk to them and let them see me every time I go in the barn. They are pretty affectionate and have licked my hands. Also they have let us pet and scratch them a little bit.

I haven't gotten bold with them yet, because I don't want them getting bold with me.

*Cow Cookies adapted from the recipe at the link, but cooked at 250 degrees for 1/2 hour on one side, then flipped and cooked 15 min on the other side. Cut into portions while still warm. Found that the recipe made about 10 dozen.

http://www.dextercattle.org/recipe.htm

Attached photos = label from range block (please say if I got the wrong kind), and the pan of cow cookies spoiled cattle!
The heifer is just shy. Remember that at 5-6 months of age, they probably were just separated from there mother not to long ago. Just spend time with her.
This is very important with a cow you want to milk. She needs to get used to having someone touch her all the time. Better now when she is young than when she is older.

For moving cows, sometimes one will just get stubborn, and no amount of pulling on her lead will get her to move. Those paddles work, but what I use is an empty 2L soda bottle with some gravel in it. stand behind them and swirl it around. it makes a hollow rattle sound. That almost always gets them moving again. Just don't ever hit them with it. I think that the sound makes them nervous, and they want to move away from it. Once it touches them a few times though, they realize it is nothing to be afraid of, and it doesn't work anymore.
it is also ok to be firm with a cow! Trust me, an animal that uses barbed wire to scratch an itch is not going to be hurt if you slap there rump from time to time to get them to move.


I know everyone here has said a lot about bulls, but the biggest thing you will have to worry about is the female once she has a calf. A lot of time spent with her while she is growing up will go a long way for when that time comes.
Another thing, never EVER get between a mam cow and its newborn, especially in a confined space. Get help if for some reason you need to separate a mother and its baby before it is 2 months old in a stall. The easiest way to do it is to let both animals out of the stall, and about 10 minutes later call the mama with some grain. let her come in, and shut the door before the baby walks in.
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Old 10-21-2012, 08:17 PM
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I thought I'd throw some .02 cents into the mix about Mama cows...about a month ago we weined the herd (getting the calves off their moms)...

Do not let any pups take part, especially if you haven't done a lot of cow/dog work. In fact dealing with cows and their babies, unless you are moving the pairs a long way's don't use the dogs at all. Cow's vs. Wolves basically. You end up spending more time having moms chasing the dogs, then just moving on down the road. That "fight the wolves" is a very, very deep instinct, and for us in coyote/wolf country we don't discourage it in our cattle. I've came across some huge battle scenes of mom's defending their young in the snow. One of my favorite cow's I can and do walk up and pet almost every day...but mix my cowdog into it and it's war.

Like mentioned before do not get in between, just use the calf as a shield. If need be you can drop, or step back and normally the cow stops with her kid. I have seen momma's so protective that the buckeroo's drive up next to the calf, rope it, and pull it up onto the pickup bed to work on it...all the while mom is getting the rig ready to visit the fender shop for a lot of work. A lot of work.

Pepare for the cows to tear down everything...I watched a cow jump one five strand barbwire fence, gallop full speed for 20 yards and clear the next one to get back in with "my baby." If for any reason not just weining you do have to seperate a cow from its calf, try, try to figure out a way for the cow to see it's kid. It only took the loss of the same barn door twice (as in demolished) to figure out new approaches. Be ready for the magic bawl...all calves can do the "Momma, I'm scared and hurt" bawl and it's "Katy bar the door" he-he...try to keep the calf quiet. I use the "bawl" to try to figure out who the newborns mom is to tag it. We have big ranges. Mom knows where her kid is planted, and if you're near the calf and do the bawl...here comes Mom...on the run.

The best approach to wiening..now taught all over is to use two pens across from each other. You need good fences, we electrifiy both sides of our fence, one wire on calf side, and one wire on cow side. Feed the whole herd together in one pen for a week. Then seperate the cows/calves and put the calves on one side of the fence and cows on the other. Place feed bunks along the fence for the calves to run into while pacing up and down the wire. Start feeding the cows near the fence, next day further away, next day further away, and so on. The idea is less stress...stress equals weight loss, illness ect. When the pairs can see each other, sure theres a lot of bawling for a week or so but the stress is down, both are eating ect. Its a lot better way to do business then rip the calf off the cow and haul them to market.

And that's my tid-bit for cows and calves. Have fun, but remember they are big big animals. Just leaning on you can crush your ribs, break your hands, and simply kill you trying to get scratched. I've watched people get sent to the hospital, all my life working our ranch. A few over the years killed, I can show you the exact spot's were folks went upstairs forever.. It's no joke.-WW
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Old 10-21-2012, 08:30 PM
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We only use dogs on cattle in thick brush we can't navigate. Other than that, never.

Dogs drive cattle crazy and they will tear everything up including you if you're in the way.
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Old 10-22-2012, 07:36 AM
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I have a cow story and perhaps a word of warning. I used to keep cows and after a new calf was born in the field I had to go out and put an ear tag in the calf's ear and give it a needle, and if it was a bull calf I had to put the elastics on his testicles. The trick was to grab the calf before it got too old or you would never be able to catch it. Another thing to think about was that when the calf was only just born the mother is too protective. One time I wrestled down a mothers calf and was doing my thing. The mother had her snout in my face breathing like an angry bull on the bugs bunny show. I should have got on with what I was doing but instead I pet the mothers head. She hit me with her head and I flew backwards six feet. After that I learned to never touch the mothers when working on a calf.
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Old 10-22-2012, 02:18 PM
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Cows behave just like people in a way.....

When threatened, some will run away, some will snort and paw the ground but not do anything, and some won't make a sound as they run straight at you and try to kill you.

In 54 years of raising cattle, the one thing I know is you never know what a cow is going to do. The bovine brain is small for their size which makes them a creature of instinct and not intelligence.
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Old 10-22-2012, 08:49 PM
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I'm back!

Thanks for more helpful tips and amusing stories everyone.

After a rainy week, where we got a couple inches of rain, finally Saturday was a nice sunny day.

We put up some cattle panels between the barn and the paddock. Then we moved the calves out through the paddock to the pasture. They were skipping and jumping! So happy to get some fresh grass

It was a little tricky at first because the heifer was balking, didn't know where she was supposed to go, and a couple of turkeys were blocking her path. Then Joey, the bull calf, took the lead and went toward the grass. The turkeys got out of his way, and Daisy followed him no problem.

Now today was a stormy one, and we expect a few more storms this week. I was watching from indoors when there was thunder and lightning and they didn't seem affected. I think they're going to be fine outside though we need to get busy making them an outdoor shelter.

Some photos of the start of our herd. I really like the way my bull looks. He looks solid and straight. The heifer I'm going to let her grow a bit more before I try to judge. (no pics of me I'm behind the camera)
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:04 PM
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Difference between quiet cattle and cattle that are easy to handle. Really dont want them to quiet, if they dont fear you a bit they will have no respect for you. Most people fall into 2 camps when dealing with livestock, they are either to gental/soft with them or to agresive. The trick is you have to be both. Most of the time its better to be gental with them but the trick is you have to be able to ramp up the agression instantly when the need arises, and as soon as you get the desired response you have to go straight back to gental mode. Its harder than it sounds, many people handle stock all there lives and never get the hang of it. Its no coinsidence that people that are good at handerling animals are ussally good with kids
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by txflyboy View Post
The bovine brain is small for their size which makes them a creature of instinct and not intelligence.
How intelligent do you have to be to sneak up on grass?

They can learn routines, but I always chalk it up to food in one way or another. Generally there are a few smarter one's(more efficent eaters). They remember the trails, the water holes, where the mineral feeders are. They lead the whole herd to those next spots. We go out of our way to keep those. So some seem smart but its basic...wheres my chow, wheres my water, it feels good to be scratched....sheesh kinda sounds like me.-WW
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