Training cattle to ride

Baymule

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I vote for making him a steer for safety reasons. Cattle are notional as it is, toss big testicles in the mix and you have a thousand plus pounds of hormones that are a ticking time bomb. You have received some very sound advice from some very experienced people, people who have been there, done that, walked the walk and have years and years of experience. He can be fine for a long time, but someday, something will click in his bovine brain and he will do what bulls do.

If he is to be used for breeding, that makes him even more unpredictable. If you want a riding animal, train the cow. Or keep a bull calf from her, make it a steer and train it to ride. Then you get a riding animal and get to keep your breeding stock.

 

Beekissed

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Yep...an old farmer up the road from us that I'd known pretty much all my life was killed by his pet bull. Nine years he had that bull and never a wrong move from it....he could sit on it, lay down on it as it lay in the field, it followed him around like a puppy. One day it got him down and kept bulling him until all his ribs were broken, puncturing internal organs and he died from it. It happens a LOT....too many times for it to be the exception to the rule.

When we say cut off the balls, it's not something we just prefer, we just prefer someone not wind up dead due to ignorance of male livestock. You may be able to get by with a pet for years and think you are the exception to the rule, but too many people have thought that and died.
 

Baby Duck

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Yep...an old farmer up the road from us that I'd known pretty much all my life was killed by his pet bull. Nine years he had that bull and never a wrong move from it....he could sit on it, lay down on it as it lay in the field, it followed him around like a puppy. One day it got him down and kept bulling him until all his ribs were broken, puncturing internal organs and he died from it. It happens a LOT....too many times for it to be the exception to the rule.

When we say cut off the balls, it's not something we just prefer, we just prefer someone not wind up dead due to ignorance of male livestock. You may be able to get by with a pet for years and think you are the exception to the rule, but too many people have thought that and died.
That's terrible. I understand now, it seemed like at first some people just thought it would make it easier to make him a steer, or it would be harder to train a bull. I've been wanting to train the heifer calf, but she is extremely skittish and wary of people, despite the fact she has been handled as much as the bull calf.
 

Baymule

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I am so glad that now you understand WHY we all advised to castrate him. Not because we doubted your abilities, but because bulls are dangerous, period. In fact for one cow, keeping a bull doesn’t make financial sense. Do yourself a favor and call some Veternarian’s and ask the price of artificial insemination. Weigh that up against the cost of keeping a bull all year, the time consumed and the feeling of never turn your back on him. Even facing him, you’d better always have an escape route. You also need to separate them. You don’t want to breed the heifer on her on her first heat, she will be too young and still too small. It can stunt her growth and she could be too small to birth her calf and you could lose them both. Plus, when she does give birth, you have to take the bull out before she gives birth or he will breed her back too soon. In other words, you can’t throw them in a pasture as calves and expect good results. Another option might be to take her to a friend with a bull to get her bred, castrate your bull calf and raise him for the freezer. We are currently raising a steer for the freezer. It’s cheaper to buy a weaned calf than it is to keep a cow and bull.
 

Baby Duck

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I am so glad that now you understand WHY we all advised to castrate him. Not because we doubted your abilities, but because bulls are dangerous, period. In fact for one cow, keeping a bull doesn’t make financial sense. Do yourself a favor and call some Veternarian’s and ask the price of artificial insemination. Weigh that up against the cost of keeping a bull all year, the time consumed and the feeling of never turn your back on him. Even facing him, you’d better always have an escape route. You also need to separate them. You don’t want to breed the heifer on her on her first heat, she will be too young and still too small. It can stunt her growth and she could be too small to birth her calf and you could lose them both. Plus, when she does give birth, you have to take the bull out before she gives birth or he will breed her back too soon. In other words, you can’t throw them in a pasture as calves and expect good results. Another option might be to take her to a friend with a bull to get her bred, castrate your bull calf and raise him for the freezer. We are currently raising a steer for the freezer. It’s cheaper to buy a weaned calf than it is to keep a cow and bull.
We will be separating them. I won't just be having the one cow, I'm getting two more heifer calves in a few weeks. Maybe where you live its cheaper to buy a weaned calf, but here they go for $500+.
 

Baymule

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We paid $500 for our steer. Cost of keeping cattle depends on where you live and how much land and pasture you have. If you have snow on the ground for 6 months out of the year, you will buy a lot of feed and hay. Even in our climate, there are gaps in the time the summer grasses die back and the winter grasses grow enough to be grazed, Then in late spring, it is in reverse, a gap between the winter grasses die back and the summer grasses grow enough to be grazed. We only have 8 acres, split between horses, sheep and 1 steer. I work diligently on the grass, but pretty much keep a round bale out all year around. Then figure in rain, drought and weather. We had drought this summer and a dry fall. The clovers and rye grass is just now coming up. That will throw it late for spring grazing. Sigh...... LOL

Please understand we are not picking on you. We are not being mean or discouraging or trying to ruin your dream. We are trying to educate you so you may avoid the many pitfalls and mistakes along the way.

Keeping a milk cow is to be commended. The butter, cheese, fresh milk and cream will be a delight to you and your family. If you raise some pigs, they can consume the extra milk and whey and will make some of the best pork you ever tasted. Home raised beef is outstanding, nothing like the beef from the store. Read the forums and study. You will find failures, successes and everything in between. Benefit from what others have done, filter out what will work for you and what won't. There is lots and lots of information here that will help you.

If you want help and advice, ask. You will get honest answers. You may like it, you may not, but you will get truthful, honest answers. The more information you give us, the better we can guide you. By that I mean how many acres you have, fences, shelter or lack thereof, breeds, good grass and what kind, no grass or trying to get grass established. What is your soil? Clay, loam, or sand? What is the climate? Desert, hot, cold, monsoon rains? A general location will help also, such as north, south, east, west of what state. You don't have to give town, we certainly don't want to invade your privacy or make you feel uncomfortable. There is a ton of information here, there are very experienced people here, it is up to you what you want to do with it.
 

Baby Duck

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By that I mean how many acres you have, fences, shelter or lack thereof, breeds, good grass and what kind, no grass or trying to get grass established. What is your soil? Clay, loam, or sand? What is the climate? Desert, hot, cold, monsoon rains? A general location will help also, such as north, south, east, west of what state.
I have 11 acres, they have a shelter they sleep in at night, the entire 11 acres is fenced, and they are Holstein crosses. We have good grass that they eat, not sure what kind. My soil is clay. We have mild winters and hot summers. I live in south Georgia. They are still grazing and eating grass, and I only have the two calves on 11 acres. We do have hay provided, but they will not eat it yet. They eat whole corn sometimes, but not a lot of it.
 

Jersey Love

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I just wanted to chime in here, if you do plan to keep cattle consider an older animal to teach your youngsters culture and manners. Right now it sounds like you have a few orphans who may think they are equal/same as to you that is dangerous. Even more so that being a bull! They need to understand that they are cattle, not humans.
Think of an orphan puppy one not raised around other dogs but with a bottle. He will assume that you want to play the same as him but you are much more fragile than a puppy. They can bite hard and shake without a scratch. Now think of all the manners that must be taught.
Now you have that same puppy at your house but it will eventualy weigh 2000lbs. Cattle head butt, mount, ram and wrestle with each other without a thought. They can't be allowed to do any of this with you. But who will show them what is allowed? Without you being subjected to this kind of behavior? They must learn their culture and an older cow would be best if possible.
 

farmerjan

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Some advice from someone that has had and been involved with dairy cattle all my life. Dairy breed bulls are more aggressive than beef bulls in general. Crossbred cattle can get the best or the worst of both breeds.
Jersey - holstein cross females are often noted for having overall, an attitude. I have several, have been around dairies that have had MANY. I have a couple that are sweethearts and have sold a few that have had attitudes that I will not tolerate. I have jerseys and guernseys, and crosses that I use as nurse cows. Have angus/jersey, angus/holstein, and some 3 way crosses. The jersey/holstein females tend to have more udder problems than either breed as purebreds. Center and rear ligament support falls apart sooner. This is not just a one or 2 cow thing, I have seen hundreds and had dozens myself.

One thing, any dairy crossbred needs more than just grass and occasional corn to grow and develop correctly. Dairy/beef crosses still need more of the nutrition that dairy cattle need than a beef animal. They grow bone, and frame first. Without proper nutrition they will become more pot bellied and not grow properly. This will translate into the heifer not being well grown for breeding time. She will not come into her milk or milk decently. I realize as a family type cow, you do not need 5-8 gallons a day. I have often had a jersey/angus cross as a family cow and shared her milk with a calf and still had plenty. I also have had a jersey have 4 calves on her.... feeding all 4 well so that they are fat and growing and weaning at 4-500 lbs each....

But, understand that in nature, a calf will stay on the cow and get milk for 5-8 months. Less as it gets bigger and eats more roughage... but they are getting butterfat and nutrients from that milk so that their body continues to grow. If you bottle raise a calf, and wean at 8-10 weeks as most do.... and I also wean bottle calves around 10 weeks.... you have to supplement them with a growing ration with enough protein and balanced nutrients..... what they would be getting from their mother's milk. And you need to feed some sort of a grain or supplement until they are at least a year along with good grass and hay. If you are going to put the time into raising an animal that will hopefully serve your needs for years like a milk cow, or an animal that you are going to eat , you want it to grow so that you are not feeding longer or in the long run spending more to get it to a productive place. Plus, if they don't grow well as a young animal, you cannot make it up after they get mature. Their growth can be stunted, they could have breeding problems, or could not be developed enough to be able to calve without problems.

@Jersey Love is very right about the animals learning manners and their place in the pecking order. If they are too dependent on you and look at you as their equal, they will hurt you without ever meaning to because they don't know their own strength. They don't have to be mean, they can just be playing and doing what they do and you cannot play back the same way that they naturally would.

I hope that you don't take this as criticism. I am trying to give you some insight so you don't have to make the same mistakes that people make over and over, and to not have to learn the hard way. And to prevent you from getting hurt.
 

Baby Duck

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One thing, any dairy crossbred needs more than just grass and occasional corn to grow and develop correctly. Dairy/beef crosses still need more of the nutrition that dairy cattle need than a beef animal. They grow bone, and frame first. Without proper nutrition they will become more pot bellied and not grow properly. This will translate into the heifer not being well grown for breeding time. She will not come into her milk or milk decently.
Mine will not eat hay. I've bought three different kinds. They just refuse to eat it, and instead pee and poo on it.
But, understand that in nature, a calf will stay on the cow and get milk for 5-8 months. Less as it gets bigger and eats more roughage... but they are getting butterfat and nutrients from that milk so that their body continues to grow. If you bottle raise a calf, and wean at 8-10 weeks as most do.... and I also wean bottle calves around 10 weeks.... you have to supplement them with a growing ration with enough protein and balanced nutrients..... what they would be getting from their mother's milk. And you need to feed some sort of a grain or supplement until they are at least a year along with good grass and hay. If you are going to put the time into raising an animal that will hopefully serve your needs for years like a milk cow, or an animal that you are going to eat , you want it to grow so that you are not feeding longer or in the long run spending more to get it to a productive place. Plus, if they don't grow well as a young animal, you cannot make it up after they get mature. Their growth can be stunted, they could have breeding problems, or could not be developed enough to be able to calve without problems.
Mine were weaned at 16 weeks. What grain or supplement is needed? I did not know that, thank you for the advice. They have good grass, but again they refuse to eat hay.
 
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