How to train heifer to a stanchion?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
I have a 2 year old dairy heifer that I am trying to stanchion "break". She is not mean, or nervous--or at least didn't used to be. Here's the situation: We raised her as a bottle calf, and she was totally tame. We used to stake her out on the lawn when she was younger. She has outgrown her halter, and I didn't worry about putting a new one on her, because she has always come when called, and would willingly follow me or my sons anywhere. About 3 weeks ago I finished some barn remodeling and re-fencing, and it was time to start bringing her in the barn. She is due to calve in late December/early January. Anyway, I left the barn door open, her manger full of alfalfa, called her and went ahead and milked the goats. She came in, no problem, and went straight for the manger and munched away. After about a week of this, twice a day, I closed the stanchion. She fought it, of course, but not as bad as many I've seen. She did still eat her hay after she knew she couldn't escape. When she was done, I let her out. In my experience, that's usually all it takes. (I grew up on a dairy, and have have milk cows myself for the last 17 years.) Well, when she came in the next morning, she would back out of the stanchion whenever I came near to latch it. I did manage to close it on her a couple more times, but had to keep getting sneakier about it. After the last time, forget it. She will stare in the barn door, and even come in and grab a mouthful and back up while I'm busy milking, but if the boys or I are even within reaching distance of the stanchion, she won't even come in. I bought a new halter, and walked out to the pasture to put it on, thinking I would have to just start leading her in....no way. She no longer trusts us, and although she's come to within about 5 feet of us, that's it. She's on good pasture, so I have quit giving her any hay--it's in that manger twice a day if she wants it, but she knows the rules now, and isn't going to have anything to do with that stanchion. It's just me and my sons, (11&12) so man-handling her in is out of the question. I am going to string an electric fence tomorrow to give her less pasture, hoping a little hunger will help, but I don't want to actually starve her, she's still growing, and is pregnant. We've even tried luring her with her absolute favorite treat (quartered apples) and she just stands in the doorway and drools for them. Any and all advice would be deeply appreciated. Has anyone ever encountered this before? K.T.
-- K.T.Simon (KTS@hotmail.com), September 17, 2001
If you are in a cold area and she's going to come in the barn in mid November or so anyway, I'd quit trying to force the issue now and forget about it until she comes in, then I'd have no food or water available that isn't on the other side of the stanchion. If you aren't in a cold area and pasture continues all year, I'd bring her in anytime you feel like keeping her inside for a week or so and force her to eat through the stanchion. She would probably tame down fairly fast if she had no options. Right now she has choices on where to eat, so of course she'll avoid the stanchion.
-- Jennifer L. (Northern NYS) (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 17, 2001.
K.T. typical of an animal raised by hand they think they are human and not a cow they re ususlly the worst to break to milk, you can tie her legs with a small rope when the time comes this is what i do to newly freshened heifers. keep reassuring her and you will come out on top.
-- Diane (email@example.com), September 17, 2001.
I'd use grain as the treat. Being a little hungry for a couple of days won't hurt anything. My cow was a snortin', wild eyed thing and we trained her to the stanchion with 16 percent dairy ration and corn. That was the only place we offered grain. Good luck to you. Let us know how you are getting on.
-- Stephanie Masters (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 17, 2001.