How to tame a wild beef calf

Rammy

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Hello:

New here. I got some Angus heifers this year that have not been messed with. They are 4 months old. I have been trying to tame them down by handfeeding and just trying to touch them to get used to me. One has already run thru the fence when she first came. We got her back and she is locked up in a stall right now.
The other three<we have 4> are doing a little better. Two have let me touch them on the nose, and one licked my finger. I guess that's a good sign?
We are trying to train them to come when its feeding time. Right now, we have them in a small fenced in area<the rest of the pasture is hotwire>, but they wont come. I have to go walk behind them to get them into the stall.
Any suggestions as to how to tame them down a little? I want them to come when called before letting them out onto the rest of the pasture.

Rammy
 

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Greetings and welcome to BYH! So glad you joined us. There's a wealth of info, knowledge and experience shared in the multitude of threads. I'll tag a couple of our cow folks and hopefully the'll stop in with some ideas/suggestions. Browse around and see what interesting stuff you can find. By all means post away when the desire strikes you, especially if you have questions (provide as much detail/info as possible and pictures truly help)... With all the great folks here, generally someone will respond in no time at all. Please make yourself at home! Please consider taking a minute to visit the new member's thread and introduce yourself so folks can welcome you properly. https://www.backyardherds.com/forums/new-member-introductions.17/

PLEASE put at least your general location in your profile. It could be very important if/when you ask for or offer help or advice. You know, climate issues and such. I recommend at least your state as most folks won't be able to figure out where if you put anything more specific (county, town, street, etc) by itself. Old folks like me will never remember & look there first. To add it, mouse hover over Account top right and a drop down will appear. Click on Personal Details and scan down. You'll see the spot for Location. Then go to the bottom and save changes. Thanks! Hope you enjoy the site!

@Wehner Homestead @greybeard @farmerjan @WildRoseBeef @GLENMAR & I know there are others...

This would have been better posted to: https://www.backyardherds.com/forums/behaviors-handling-techniques-cattle.8/ @Sumi could you move it there please?
 

Wehner Homestead

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:welcome:ya

Love my cows! Now, about your calves. They need called the same way every time. All of ours learn to come to “suh calf, cmon girls, swoa.” All said with a deep, masculine voice! :lol: I’m female so I struggle to get deep enough. They usually look at me and go back to grazing since we started having human kids and DH calls them all the time. He says it once and they RUN for the barn paddock where their feeders are. These are our brood cows that don’t get fed grain very often.

Taking them is a whole other topic. (IMHO: Angus are nuts! :hide Not everyone agrees but we had some and culled because they’d charge you. I also tried breaking some in my 4-H days and decided I’d rather live.) Sniffing your hand is a good sign. The one by itself won’t calm down. They have to be with another bovine. They are herd animals. When it comes to taming them, try using a pen in the barn that isn’t big enough for them to run and enclosed on all four sides with barn walls or livestock gates. Sit on a bucket with hay at your feet while reading to them, talking, or singing county/gospel songs (they don’t like heavy metal or rap.) They’ll become accustomed to the sound of your voice and will be curious about the hay and make their way to you.

When they are eating, dump the feed from in the pen, into their feeder so that they have to come up beside you. Don’t take your eye off them though. The idea isn’t to get tromped. Talk to them the whole time they eat. They’ll eye you at first and eat slowly but get used to you. Once they appear relaxed at all, reach out and touch the closest one on the top of the shoulder. Be rough. They have a thick hide! Scratch hard. They’ll discover quickly that they like it. Be prepared for the one you touch to jump and/or run backwards. The others may move away in succession also. You can also walk behind them while they are eating and scratch their tail heads. This is something they usually like but until they figure out that you aren’t trying to hurt them, be prepared for them to jump forward, rush backward, and/or kick. Keep in mind they can kick the length of the leg (tip of their hoof to their hip.) The closer you are, the less force they can get behind a kick. When taking several, remaining close can put you in a dangerous spot as they all get jumpy. Sometimes it’s better to lean in as much as you can to stay in a “safe zone.” Some use a curry comb to give their hand a little extra length. Most cattle like the comb too as it easily gets rough enough to actually feel good instead of startling.

Most cattle have a sweet spot, you just have to find it and you’ll have them in your pocket in no time. The whole back (use both hands to span the distance and scratch hard with all your fingertips), the tailhead, the sides of the tail, and the brisket. Once you get their sweet spot you’ll know because they’ll move with you or start licking their nose or something in front of them with their tongue.

It’s fine to let them sniff your hand but we don’t recommend scratching heads as you can encourage them to want to play. No biggie when they are little but when they weigh 1500+#, that’s a dangerous toy.

If they try to put their head down to you to play or shake their head at you, grab an ear roughly. It gets their attention quickly and most jump back. Usually by the third time, they don’t try again as they don’t want their ears grabbed.

We’d love to see pics of them and of course, updates are now required. Don’t be afraid to ask anything. We will help where we can. You can also tag us if you’d like us to find your post faster.

Did I mention pics? We like pics! ;)
 

Rammy

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Thank you for the suggestions. I will definitly try those.
Right now, I say Here,Cow, when calling them. I saw a youtube video where this guy used a few hay bale ropes tied together and used it to touch the cows with. I tried that and it actually worked. I was able to touch them, one more than others. One did try to kick but I wasnt close enough.
When they get put into the stall at night, I put the feed in the trough and say the Here, Cow. Next time I will talk to them.
The stall they are in is 12 x 16. There are 3 calves/ heifers. Yes, Angus are stupid. Nutjobs. What was I thinking?
A farmer who raises these told me not to let them into the main pasture until they come when called. Im not so sure they will. I guess I will sit on a pail with some sweet feed surrounded by hay. I will have to lower my voice when calling them I guess. Its pretty high right now for a girl. Haha!
I probably will refer to this reply alot and any others that might have suggestions. I think next year I will find some nice bottle fed Jerseys. We had those last year and one followed me around like a puppy dog and sucked on my shirt.
( banging head against the wall).

Rammy
 

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are you keeping these to breed for more calves or just raising them up to market size?

do you have a loading or working chute? Maybe you could run them up in it and scratch them in the chute. If you don't have one, cowpanels make a great "instant chute". LOL You just have to have a good gate or way to close it and make sure you can point them back in the pen you have them in. Maybe you could feed them or offer a treat in the chute. Maybe you could move them through the chute from pen to another, feed them half rations, then move them back through the chute again to feed them the rest. This would teach them that the chute isn't going to eat them. LOL
 

Wehner Homestead

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We have some wonderful cross girls, some Shorthorns, and Simmentals. Maines are great too but they are typically more of a show breed. Chi are mostly high strung but HUGE babies if you can conquer them.

We have 17 cows and of those, we can walk up and scratch 13 of them, 2 more will let us get close enough to sniff our hand, the remaining 2 tolerate us (one of which is high on my cull list and the other was half crazy when we bought her as an adult but has come around enough to not run, live calf every year, and they are breakable for show so she gets to stay.)
 

greybeard

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With cattle, I don't do pets, don't do 'cute' and don't do 'treats'.

Having said that, I can get every of my cows, calves and bull to come to my voice, unless they are already busy eating feed.

Getting them to come to you just because you call them as a pet dog would is not going to happen...they aren't mentally wired like that.

They have to become trained to equate you (and your voice) to something their mentality can readily understand, and that thing is feed.

It doesn't matter how you call them. It's like the old saying.."You can call me anything you want, but don't call me late for supper".
One of my neighbors just whistles and his come..I just call COOOWWWS! and whatever might be between me and them better get out of the way.

I do not like to feed right out of a bucket. Most buckets are too small for a calf's head and they start fighting the bucket. I feed in a trough and while they have their heads down eating, i reach over and touch them on the neck, very gently and very slowly. A few strokes, then stop. Then again. They'll jump back as soon as they raise their heads and see it's you, but do it enough times every time you feed and they'll eventually get used to it and not see you as a threat. I do this from their side at first, not straight in front of them. You reach toward a calf's eye view, and they will just back off. (They more readily accept a touch from the side because they were used to their mother reaching back, nudging them or licking them while they nursed)

Closest I come to using treats is range cubes/ pressed cottonseed cake.
Good protein, pretty inexpensive and cattle love them. 20% or higher and usually less than $10/50lbs.
I know you are in Tennessee and from other conversations I know there are parts of Tenn and Ky that cubes just aren't carried in feed stores or even in places like TSC or SS. Dunno why, but they aren't. I take it out in the pasture in a 5 gal bucket or 2 and call, and they come running. I pour it on the ground most times in a long string or separate piles, and that's the way it was made to be fed. It's like crack to cows...they can't resist it.
 

Rammy

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are you keeping these to breed for more calves or just raising them up to market size?

do you have a loading or working chute? Maybe you could run them up in it and scratch them in the chute. If you don't have one, cowpanels make a great "instant chute". LOL You just have to have a good gate or way to close it and make sure you can point them back in the pen you have them in. Maybe you could feed them or offer a treat in the chute. Maybe you could move them through the chute from pen to another, feed them half rations, then move them back through the chute again to feed them the rest. This would teach them that the chute isn't going to eat them. LOL

We are raising them to sell later on when they get big enough. Mostly, I got them to keep the grass eaten down in my pasture now that my horse I had for 33 years passed away two years ago. I put up a pic as my avatar of the cows we had last year. Will get some of the new girls up as soon as I can.
Thats a good idea about the fencing. I dont have a chute. Im just a small, got a few acres. lets put animals on it, kinda farmer. Mostly I have chickens.
It would be nice to do a chute. I have panels, but am using them to funnel the girls out to the chicken yard so they can get out until I can get them to come when I call. I dont want to have to chase these things around the neighborhood again. :)

Thank you all for your suggestions. They are really great!!

Rammy
 

Rammy

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With cattle, I don't do pets, don't do 'cute' and don't do 'treats'.

Having said that, I can get every of my cows, calves and bull to come to my voice, unless they are already busy eating feed.

Getting them to come to you just because you call them as a pet dog would is not going to happen...they aren't mentally wired like that.

They have to become trained to equate you (and your voice) to something their mentality can readily understand, and that thing is feed.

It doesn't matter how you call them. It's like the old saying.."You can call me anything you want, but don't call me late for supper".
One of my neighbors just whistles and his come..I just call COOOWWWS! and whatever might be between me and them better get out of the way.

I do not like to feed right out of a bucket. Most buckets are too small for a calf's head and they start fighting the bucket. I feed in a trough and while they have their heads down eating, i reach over and touch them on the neck, very gently and very slowly. A few strokes, then stop. Then again. They'll jump back as soon as they raise their heads and see it's you, but do it enough times every time you feed and they'll eventually get used to it and not see you as a threat. I do this from their side at first, not straight in front of them. You reach toward a calf's eye view, and they will just back off. (They more readily accept a touch from the side because they were used to their mother reaching back, nudging them or licking them while they nursed)

Closest I come to using treats is range cubes/ pressed cottonseed cake.
Good protein, pretty inexpensive and cattle love them. 20% or higher and usually less than $10/50lbs.
I know you are in Tennessee and from other conversations I know there are parts of Tenn and Ky that cubes just aren't carried in feed stores or even in places like TSC or SS. Dunno why, but they aren't. I take it out in the pasture in a 5 gal bucket or 2 and call, and they come running. I pour it on the ground most times in a long string or separate piles, and that's the way it was made to be fed. It's like crack to cows...they can't resist it.

Last night I did this string thing I saw on youtube and it worked pretty well. I have one that seems to be a kicker and more shy than the rest but think I can get her to come around. I will do your suggestion tonight. I have been trying to touch them while feeding in a trough, no bucket, and when they first came, forget it. Last night was the first time I could touch a few of them at length since we got them. Im hoping that they will equate my calling them and touching them with food soon. Not to optomistic right now. :)

Rammy
 

Rammy

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P.S.
Thanks to everyone for your suggestions and advice. Mostly, Im looking to just get them calmed down, be able to handle them some, and get them to come when called so they dont run thru the fence again and I can put them up if need be. Im not looking to make them pets or show them, just be able to safetly handle them if the need arises. I definitely will try some of the suggestions and hopefully they will see that Im not going to hurt them and hey, this lady gives us feed, hmmmm. Frankly, the one that escaped and is at my neighbors for the time being, is named Freezer Queen, if you get my drift. Once he gets her calmed down, she will probably come back. I just hope she doesnt try to run the fence again. I think she knows she can go thru it. We put up more wire and have a good hot box on it but if they want out, nothings going to stop them.
 
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