Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Draft Animal Power › Oxen › Running Hot?
- January 18, 2015 at 1:08 pm #84632
I thought about posting this in different category so that I can get some more opinions from the horse people, so if anybody has any idea of how to slow down a hot animal please chime in. This is in relation to my post the other day about my near steer that was throwing a fit. I am wondering if something is up with him, metabolically? The massive fit he threw last weak was the culmination of a troublesome trend. He has seemingly been running hot. When I work them he is always rushing ahead. I have to constantly slow him down and this leads to further irritation from him. Last thursday he started shaking his head at me, not cool, and literally trying to “gallop” under the yoke. I have never had him try to move at this pace. He did not get away from me because like I said I always have a halter on him as I can’ t trust this team to not run away. His reaction just seems out of proportion to what I am asking of him. He has been sweaty and panting, and simply hotter than the other steer. I am wondering if the grass is too much and I should take him back to the barn to feed drier hay? I have never had a this steer get so worked up under the yoke. Now they might need a bigger yoke and that is coming, but as far as I can tell my gear is snug., but fitting well. He is just being a hot head and at this time I would think he would be settling down a bit. Any suggestions?January 18, 2015 at 5:20 pm #84637CharlyBonifazMember
3 things come to my mind instantly:
how was he castrated,
does he get any grain and
are you sure the harness fits him well enough?
January 18, 2015 at 6:37 pm #84639
- This reply was modified 5 years, 2 months ago by CharlyBonifaz.
He was banded young, 2-3 weeks, no grain, and I know they need a new yoke soon but maybe soon is now.January 18, 2015 at 10:46 pm #84642Crabapple FarmParticipant
It’s really hard to diagnose this sort of thing remotely.
Could be a metabolic thing, with too much lush grass. Could be a weather thing (was it a windy day? a good wind “puts the devil in ’em” as one of my mentors used to say). Could be discomfort with the yoke, or some other hidden sore spot.
Does he only act wild and crazy in the yoke, or does he act “hot” when on pasture? Does he seem to be questioning your authority, directing his attention at you while acting out, or is he more focused on the yoke, the load, the barn ahead, ?? With the halter, are you able to control him, or just not lose him? If he’s dragging you, you could be inadvertently teaching him a very dangerous lesson – that he is bigger than you.
Have you ever tried driving them without a yoke on? I like to tie mine together with a short chain or just baling twine (clips on the ends make it easier to undo and hence safer), either to halters or collars. This is enough (for mine) to mimic the feel of being linked as a team. Collars is going to “feel” more like the constraint of the yoke. You can’t do any work this way, but you can see how he is acting, and that might give you a sense as to whether it is the fit of the yoke or the load that he is fighting, or something else.
-TevisJanuary 19, 2015 at 10:47 am #84643HowieParticipant
How old are they?
Is he just going to try to be the dominate member of the team?
You must be the dominate one.
He might just need more work, more challenge.January 19, 2015 at 11:23 am #84644
They will be 4 in April and Tex the near steer is larger but the less dominate one in the field. He has been standing more aloof from everybody lately. I can lead them around fine in the halter and they seem fine with just the yoke on. When he is under load is when he is rushing ahead. A small load and they are fine but when the weight goes up he gets fiery. The problems I was having last week though were occurring under light load, just the stone boat. This makes me think that the yoke is too small but honestly I can still fit a hand in there it is tight but it doesn’t seem like a problem yet but maybe my inexperience is deceiving me. After a work session Tex will be breathing heavy, frothing and sweating profusely, even after a light day. He is literally hotter than the other steer. He simply seems to be working harder, but he is always a step ahead of the off steer so I would think that he is actually taking less weight. When I have worked them singly in the past Joseph the off steer seems to be able to pull more and is a more willing worker. Part of the problem with Tex is his attitude, he always wants to be done and and is rushing to get back to the barn. We are constantly working on this.January 19, 2015 at 2:35 pm #84649
So here is a narrative of todays session. I haven’t worked them since last Thursday when Tex threw a major fit. Today I just wanted to keep it simple and do a long and low. We hitched to the stone boat and took a walk to the river and back, about a mile total. This is totally within their capabilities. I took a closer look at the yoke and I am 97.5% certain that the problem is not my gear. Everything was going smooth until we started to head back to the barn. I am possitive that Tex is barn/herd sour. Eventually I have to end a session and as I get closer he continues to get more and more worked up. I know the signs now, he starts tossing his head and rushing and getting that fiery look about him. Unfortunatley due to my poor training early on he has learned to turn in the yoke. He does this to get out of work. Now I have never simply ended because he twists in the yoke, but he did break some bows early on when I was still using pvc bows. I will never use pvc bows in the future. When this happens or ideally before it happens the halter goes on and I work on starts and stops to slow him down and refocus. This is starting to simply piss him off. I manage to get back to the barn without mush fuss but he is panting and frothing again. Instead of tying to the post and unyoking right away I take a little walk in just the yoke and he is fine walking away from the barn but then when I start back toward the barn he starts getting speedy again. It is less pronounced without a load and as the load get heavier the reaction gets greater. Now I haven’t been tying this team in the barn for a while, they have been grazing in the field with the other steers and cows. We have tons of grass right now and last season I battled mange with the other steer the whole time they were in the barn. So I think the barn simply means the end of work to him. Over all I would say the Tex is not a willing worker, he is lazy and has an impatient streak. I know he is not the best animal for a working ox but I am committed keeping him until I have another team started. I hope to start some more animals this year. I know I am not the first trainer to have a barn sour animal. So what is the best advice for working with a barn sour animal.
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.January 19, 2015 at 9:25 pm #84652Crabapple FarmParticipant
Could you leave them tied in the barn for an hour or so after unyoking? To remove the Barn = Freedom notion. It would also enforce the ending on a good note – after an hour, he ought to have “cooled down” nicely.
The other thought I just had is what are the dynamics between Tex and the rest of the herd? My nigh ox is the less dominant one in the team, but he really likes to throw his weight around with the herd, and make the young ones jump when he says jump. He’s not as bad now as when he was, well, about Tex’s age. My off ox is undisputed boss, and is a gentleman about it and doesn’t feel the need to assert himself. But the nigh ox can be a real git sometimes, and used to be anxious to get back to the herd out there eating his grass and give them what for.
-TevisJanuary 19, 2015 at 9:51 pm #84654
That is good advice and it seems like they are similar. The Joe my off ox steer is the most dominate in the herd but he doesn’t through his weight around, even though he is smaller. Tex does seem to be a bit of a jerk and I have my suspicions that he is the one causing the fence break out lately, but I can’t convict him of that as I have no proof.January 20, 2015 at 6:10 am #84656Carl RussellModerator
I would try some work that challenges them mentally. It may seem like simple work to take a 2 mile walk…. because it is. I think he is too smart and clearly is focusing on getting back to his feed. I think you will wear him out more in a short challenging obstacle course, or some variable exercise during a work session.
The other thing that comes to mind is how the other steer is behaving. Is he lagging, or showing some signs of disregard for your driving? Your dominant nigh steer may be just getting all of you attention, and the off steer is taking advantage of that, so the nigh one is pissed at him, or uncomfortable with the situation.
Also, I found that I put the hot steer on the off side so I could attend to the less dominant one more overtly. Reaching over a hot steer to tune up a lagging off steer sometimes is a very hard thing to do without over stimulating the nigh one.
Work, work and more work…. Find a real project to do, and your attention to the details of the work will be a good thing for them to see. If you are just along for the walk, they see less reason to follow you.
Keep up the good work, CarlJanuary 20, 2015 at 12:08 pm #84657
I have thought about switching their sides, because part of the problem with the nigh steer being speedy is that he drifts the team away from me and I am constantly hawing them back into position. You are right Carl every time I reach over Tex to speed up the off steer the whole team speeds up then I have to slow them down. I can see that I am sending mixed messages but I can’t figure out a good way to make this team step evenly. I did try to switch sides once and it did not go great, It also did not flop. I think I might have taken the path of least resistance and made it “easy” on myself by not going through with the switch. I would say that the last year and half I have wanted them on opposite sides. Do you think it is too late to try this again? I am starting a single yoke as well because I think this might refocus each animal to my leadership. We will see what happens today!January 20, 2015 at 2:31 pm #84659HowieParticipant
20 minutes of real challenge is better than 20 miles of plain driving.
I have a friend that we used to have obstacle challenges between him and I.
We did them with our teams going backwards.January 20, 2015 at 6:07 pm #84662Donn HewesKeymaster
Totally not an ox person, but the similarities with horses are sometimes interesting. I often encourage folks to question the assumptions of which animal is in the wrong when one is in front of the other. Some folks always blame the one behind “for not wanting to work” while others blame the one in front for “never slowing down”. Sometimes with horses it is about the relationship between the two animals.
What is the speed you want is just part of the equation. How are your efforts to speed up or slow down one of them effecting the other. How much of the space between them (one in front and the other behind) is really not about speed but an issue between them (like get away from me). This is where getting them engaged in work (and paying attention to you, and not each other); thinking, watching, turning; can distract them from x (this dang ox beside me).
Again not an ox person and it probably has no baring on our your animals. Just fun to think about ways in which these things cross over.January 21, 2015 at 6:12 am #84663Carl RussellModerator
While the specifics of cattle behavior may differ slightly from horses, the general task of being a teamster is the same. Donn’s points are very good.
As far as switching sides, I can’t answer that without trying it. I have recently been absorbing the reality of being a seasoned teamster…. That while I have a bag of tricks, I still have to start at the same place as the greenest novice. I have no idea what will work, or how they will respond until I try something and watch the results.
I do know however that if I just have to raise my goad to get a steer to jump I’d like that one off. The nigh can get tuned up with the butt of the goad in the ribs, or something subtle and easy and hidden from the quick one.
Sometimes it can seem pointless to work on such fundamentals, but creating obstacle courses is a great exercise for both animals and teamster. A few weeks put into a set of make believe tasks will grow into work related tasks of the same nature, and before long all work will become a training obstacle course. The point I like to make is that it isn’t about the work being done as much as it about having responsive animals. Focus on having the best response you can get, and the work will get done.
CarlJanuary 21, 2015 at 12:56 pm #84665
I totally agree with what y’all are saying. Because of my inexperience I have gone back and forth with which one to “blame” for these issues. First it was Joe(off) then it was Tex(nigh) and then myself and back again. I have come to realize that it is not as easy as that. It is more relational and complicated and I know that Tex and Joe don’t have the most buddy buddy relationship. It might have been different with other individual animals, say if I had kept one of the other calves instead. Carl your advice on the position of the response in the steers is really helpful. I am starting to really consider switching these steers. I have made a lot of mistakes with this team and I think that it would give us a clean slate so to speak. Starting over at the basics again seems of utmost importance right now at the beginning of the season. It would offer the mental challenge that we need to reframe our relationship.
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