“What do you mean I have to stand here?”
I could see those exact thoughts running through Fiona's mind when she was tied to the wall learning about the halter. I wanted the cows to be tame enough to stand tied and respect the halter enough so they will be safe to work around if they need medication etc. so I tied them up,one up at a time for 10 minutes, once per day. Calf Halter training may not be easy, but it pays off in safety for them and you in the long run!
I would sit there for those ten minutes and watch them to make sure they that didn't hurt themselves. Like I said in my last post, Lulubelle figured it out by the second time I tied her up, if she pulls back it tightens, if she just stands there all is good.
But Fiona was oblivious. As soon as she felt the rope pull, her head would drop to the side and look up at me like the world is upside down and she's falling with it. She constantly put pressure on the rope.
Even after over 20 times practicing, she's still is the same. We also practiced leading them in the paddock, and using feed for enticement.
June came and we had the big move from the girls sleeping indoors at night to their first small pasture with an outdoor shelter for nighttime. We led them over with halters on – also motivated by following a full lunchtime bottle. This was the only way Fiona would follow – with her stomach.
They were excited for the new bigger pasture and ran around as per usual with their calf craziness. Our pasture land is divided into about 8 separate pastures and the large paddocks had been seeded with a mix of 1/3 alfalfa and 2/3 other prairie grasses before we moved there, so I think our pastures produce a better forage than native forage would be.
At 6 months of age I had the vet come to the farm to vaccinate and give the calves a check up. He gave them a clean bill of health and was quite happy with their growth. He vaccinated them and he also gave them magnets in their stomachs to prevent future intestinal problems.
A magnet? Yes. A special magnet stays in their first stomach so if the cow eats any nails or metal pieces it stays on the magnet instead of moving into their other stomachs or intestine to cause trouble.
Cows can be pretty dumb and will totally eat metal in with their grass while in the pasture.
This is a real farm thing, folks. Take a look at this face to prove my point.
Fiona has an obsession with tasting everything from your hat, clothes, tools, wood, almost anything. You cannot leave a pair of work gloves unattended or even attended as she will grab one and start chewing. So when you pet her she is usually there with her tongue out, she is not shy.
Lulubelle was so easy to work with and we have a small pen to lead her around in to practice. I bought calf halters and I added a black noseband that is padded so the halter doesn't dig into her nose, making it a bit more comfortable. I would just put pressure on the lead rope until she would take a step then I would release the pressure and pet and scratch her. I would repeat this over and over again and within a few days she would lead a fair distance and enjoy the company and interaction.
Join me next week to see how happy they were when the bottles were done.