Saturday, February 5, 2011


Since I have had two requests for help training or managing cattle in the past week, I thought I would make a serious attempt to record what the morning feeding is like. Food seems to be a big issue with cattle and their owners. I went down to the far pasture a little after seven this morning. I know all the oxen saw me and James and Charlie waited for me at the gate. As I got to the gate, James gave the begging groan and raised his head (in a submission signal). When I got through the gate, Charlie bobbed his head up and down twice, a more demonstrative submission signal. I had a bucket in my hand with feed. James and Charlie took off for the feed pans by their own route. William met me on the way to the line of feed pans and gave a bob of the head, then followed me at a respectful distance. George started for the end pan. I got to the pans, and put a scoop in each one. Charles and James stood back until food was in their pan then approached. William went after the third pan. George was now with me and bobbed his head. When I put food in his pan, he lifted my free hand with his nose. I paused and scratched him.
Now, some of the things that I think are going on. James loves attention, but is very food oriented. However, he defers to Charlie. Charlie eats first, unless George is in that sort of a mood. William is on the bottom of the pecking order. He does not interfere with me or challenge the other boys. George is so secure that he does not mind eating last, no one will drive him out of his food, but he gets his cut of “Daddy” attention off the top. Somehow, George has used me to secure his position as the herd boss.
Every once in a while someone will get a wild hair and bother another animal. Usually Charlie trying to find out if he can push George out of his position of authority. If I see it I am careful. I do not want to interfere with their herd dynamics, but when an animal is with me, they are in my protection. I will go after an animal that touches another while they are with me. This happens once a year or so.

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