Country Living Series

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bull roping

When we brought home our new bull Samson last December, he came with a halter.


Trouble is, bulls don't wear halters well. Most halters are made for cows, but bulls have a differently-shaped head -- short and massive -- so the halters never seem to fit right. This one was clearly too tight, and we didn't want it cutting into poor Samson's skin.


Bottom line, we wanted to get it off. But how? Samson was skittish and wouldn't let us touch his head.

So a neighbor with experience in roping volunteered to come over and lasso our boy.


The nice thing about Dexter bulls (besides their size!!) is they're generally pretty good-natured -- for bulls. We can't forget they're bulls, of course, but in general we don't have to be worried about getting gored out of sheer orneriness.


Roping is very much an under-appreciated skill these days -- and we're grateful our neighbor knows how to do it!


It took a couple of tries, but within five minutes he had bully-boy lassoed. (That's Polly in the pen with him. She's been Samson's pen-mate almost from the beginning.)


Our neighbor has an excellent way with animals -- very calm and steady -- but Samson wanted nothing to do with him.




He finally persuaded Samson out of the loafing shed and wrapped the rope around a tree trunk.


Within moments, he had the halter off. Phew, I'll bet that felt better for Samson!


"I am SO outta here!" Samson may not have appreciated the tactics, but we did. We're thankful for neighbors who are experienced with livestock!


And here's our pretty Polly Purebread. She's been in with Samson since December and is doubtless pregnant by now, so we expect she'll calve this September. I'll have to train her to milk!

11 comments:

  1. Those kind of neighbors are priceless. We have one too.

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  2. I don't know if it works the same way in Idaho or not, but here you can sometimes go down to the county extension office and barrow things that are not cost effective for a small operation to purchase, like a squeeze chute or a head catch. Clearly, roping him worked just fine. But for future reference, it might be something worth looking into.

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  3. Nice looking bull, I agree he didn't need to have that small harness on. Samson must have felt like he was "free" with nothing holding him down after removing the harness.

    Polly has great coloring, I hope all goes well with her calf :-)

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  4. I hope to have a milk cow one day. I will be eager to get some good vicarious learning experience from you on how to train a cow to milk....

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  5. We had a man laugh when we said we had to train a cow to milk. So glad you also used that term.

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  6. I am really interested to hear about your experiences with Dexter's. My husband and I are looking at the breed when we introduce cows to our farm next year. You stated that for the most part they are good natured, is this observation from more than one of that type of cow? Do you butcher your's? If so what is the meat like compared to other breeds. Thanks for any help.

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    1. We've had Dexters since 1998 and like them very much. They're smaller and dual-purpose (milk and meat). I milked Dexters for many years and the milk is wonderful. They're outstanding animals to put in the freezer (in fact, two of our animals have a date with the butcher this Wednesday). The meat is tender but the cuts are smaller.

      Dexters are a feistier breed than the docile Jerseys, so for your first animal(s) I recommend they be de-horned and halter-broke. If they're used to being handled, you'll find them very sweet and affectionate.

      Dexter bulls are better-tempered than many breeds and I won't have anything else but a Dexter for a herd sire because of their temperament.

      Remember, cows are social animals and should not be kept solitary if at all possible. A cow/calf pair or two heifers are a good start.

      You might look into the PDCA (Purebred Dexter Cattle Association) or ADCA (American Dexter Cattle Association) for additional info as well as breeders in your area.

      - Patrice

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  7. I was reading another blog where they are also expecting a calf from their milk cow this summer. The comment was was that they were relieved that their cow was expected to calf in June because "it's not a great idea to have a late summer/ early fall calf". Can you elaborate?

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    1. If you live in a northern climate as we do, you have to be careful about calves born just before cold weather sets in. I prefer calves to be born between May and July so they have time to put a little meat on their bones and develop insulation against the cold. That said, we've had some instances where calves were born at inconvenient times (February) but were lucky enough that we could get the cows and calves under cover, and the winter wasn't too harsh.

      Right now I expect both Matilda and Polly will calve in September, not our preferred time frame, but both cows are halter-broke and we can keep them in the barn should the weather get harsh. For our less tame cows, we'll time their breeding for late summer so the calves will be born in warmer weather.

      Not everyone does this, but this is the way we prefer to do things.

      - Patrice

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    2. Oh. Thanks. I thought it had something to do with the availability of quality stored hay for feeding a high producing milk animal through the winter vs spring/ early summer feeding on pasture. And I had read (somewhere) that trying to dry off a milk cow (in preparation for the new calf) during the late spring when grass is lush is harder than drying off a milk cow in late winter when good quality hay is harder to come by (or in some cases, has been in storage all winter and might have lost some nutritional value.) We are contemplating a milk cow and some of these issues are kind of confusing.

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