Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Draft Animal Power › Oxen › training a sigle ox?
- June 5, 2008 at 12:52 am #39635
this website is really informative. i love reading all the threads here.
i live with my boyfriend on his family’s dairy farm (200 holsteins). i would like to train an ox. i was thinking i would just train one since there is really not lots of work for the animal to do (unless the price of diesel keeps going up … but how do you hook an ox up to a pto anyway?) i have a 1/2 acer garden and we tap 150 trees in the spring, so maybe he could help with those things. are oxen sometimes trained singly? is there a reason (besides for strength) that oxen are trained in teams?June 5, 2008 at 12:57 am #46785RodParticipant
I am not one to advise in this area as my experiences with an oxen team was not very successful and I am sure their are others here who can give you sound advise. But I found this blog site a while back about Albert the single ox which makes for some good reading. Here is the link http://my-first-ox.livejournal.com/.June 5, 2008 at 2:26 am #46790Crabapple FarmParticipant
Yes, Oxen are sometimes trained singly. Hopefully Howard Van Ord will check in soon, as he is a big proponent of working single oxen.
Other than strength, the advantages to a team of oxen, as I see them, are a) a team yoke is actually a simpler set up than a single yoke, though heavier. No britchen, traces, or singletree to deal with. and b) it can be easier to keep a team on task because one can’t wander off without the other, whereas a single ox can more easily act on notions he comes up with on his own that you didn’t tell him.
Neither are major issues, if a single is what you want.
-TevisJune 6, 2008 at 1:33 am #46788HowieParticipant
If you do not need the extra power then you would be foolish not to just train a single. A single is much better than a pair in a lot of ways. If you give a heifer or a steer a chance to be your best buddy they will do anything for you that they are capable of. Both of my Devons are trained single so when in a team they are both listening to me.June 6, 2008 at 5:01 pm #46793
thanks for all the replies!
howie mentioned training a hefier, which was something else i had been thinking about. that way she could still be milked when not doing forest or field work. are working dairy cows ever dehorned? i read that the horns keep the yoke on the animal when backing up (http://www.prairieoxdrovers.com/moreinfo.html). she would have to be with the cows in the barn and the pasture. they are all dehorned. i wonder if it would be dangerous for the other cows, since they wouldn’t have their own horns to fight back with when establishing the pecking order. i would hate to have my friend goring the rest of the herd.
could anyone comment on this? also, any words of wisdom for working with horned cattle in general?June 7, 2008 at 12:11 am #46789Crabapple FarmParticipant
If you’re just going to work her single, there’s no real reason not to dehorn a working heifer. In my fairly limited experience a single yoke, without a britchen, tends to slide up on the neck and flip over when it’s not under a load, so I would always use a britchen when working a single. Once there’s a britchen there, you don’t need horns to hold the yoke back.
One thing you’ll have to watch out for with working a milk cow, which may be obvious, is that you don’t ask too much of her. Milking takes a lot of energy, pregnancy takes a lot of energy, and if you ask her to work on top of that, well, you better feed her well or she’ll waste away. And old dual or triple purpose breed (durham or devon, say) will take to it better than a skin-bones-and-bag jersey or holstein, because they tend to carry a little more condition.June 7, 2008 at 12:14 am #46787HowieParticipant
It is easyer to work a single witha bitchen so they have no need for their horns.
P.S. All cattle should have horns. God would not have given them if it were not so.June 7, 2008 at 2:06 am #46792
This conversation has been so helpful. I think I will keep one of the next bull calves we have. I don’t want to be stressing out a good heifer for what, frankly, is my own amusement at this point. I will keep the horns on him as well, even if they are not “necessary” with a britchen.
I am not really in a position to tell anyone, even my boyfriend, to dehorn or not dehorn his or her cattle. But by the same stroke, couldn’t one say: if god had intended animals to be worked, they wouldn’t have to be trained?June 7, 2008 at 7:44 pm #46791AnneParticipant
I´m from Switzerland and I´m also training heifers.
In Germany the working cow was the common draft animal for small farmers, because no extra food was needed. There were once 2,5 Million working cows in Germany… Now may be 20?
I think a good reason to start with a heifer is the following: If your training is not effective, she can still live her life as a normal milking cow. And if you are successful, you can still decide, if she should get a calf or not.
AnneJune 9, 2008 at 11:35 am #46783Carl RussellModeratorivy;1772 wrote:….. if god had intended animals to be worked, they wouldn’t have to be trained?
Animals are intended to work. Their lives are all about work. They are physically powerful and adept at maneuvering through inconsistent terrain. They are ambitious, responding to their needs to protect themselves and travel while carrying heavy loads (a belly full of food, a calf, their large frame).
When working animals we do not train them to do anything that they are not capable of doing already, in fact we work with their natural tendencies. What we do train them for, is the communication system, the signals and expected responses, Come-up, Gee, Haw, Whoa, Back, that we integrate into any situation to our pleasing. With this communication we can get them to do the work we want them to do for us.
CarlJune 10, 2008 at 1:14 am #46782Gabe AyersKeymaster
maybe they did work in the garden of Eden, but then a mistake occurred and we had to earn our place though the bow of our backs and sweat of our brow. The training probably falls under the brow sweat part, maybe….
It is also said that the earth is ours to have dominion over……and stewards of…June 10, 2008 at 1:17 am #46786RodParticipant
So true but also so misunderstood. Thanks for saying it.July 7, 2008 at 4:21 pm #46794bivolParticipant
i’m new here, this is my first time replying … anyway, about the thread.
unknown to the most of us of the western civilization, who historically predominantly yoked their cattle in pairs, in the east, china japan, and neighbouring countries cattle have predominantly been yoked alone to work in rice fields. there are few reasons for it. first, they plowed flooded rice fields, and flooded earth is easier to plow…
it is quite possible to have cattle worked alone, and for a small farm or ackerage a single ox can be an ideal animal.
a single ox, if harnessed trained and conditioned properly, can plow, only at a slowwer pace, which iks probably good, considering that you probably didn’t plow with animals before.
oxen are smart. they can learn to work alone,with person giving commands from behind.
a holstein should be an ideal working animal for working singly. it is big enough to accomplish any task, and docile enough for a begginer.
i remember this from “oxen: a teamster’s guide”:
people consider a single ox a novelty rather than a real working animal and take a rather casual approach in training it. the single ox, however, is a working animal, and if trained properly, can do the same amount of work as a pair, only at a slower pace.
this a boshkarin ox working alone in Histria, Croatia.
[IMG]http://photos.uncdf.org/thailand/webpages/previews/2707.tif[/IMG]August 7, 2008 at 12:16 pm #46795mathuranathaParticipant
G’day , a single animal is good on the road with a narrow cart —a lot less dangerous for cars to overtake . You can keep off to the side a lot more .Also a lot easier to maneuver in amongst people and cars etc .
Actually a lot less work.We use strap on shoes on the bitumen road, so less shoes to put on in the morning .less water less feed , only one animal to tether out etc.
In recent years I much prefer one animal for light carts or work ,
Good luck . Mat.August 7, 2008 at 1:53 pm #46784Carl RussellModerator
Thanks so much for all of your excellent contributions from around the globe.I apologize for the Spammers, but I was dealing with a fried Modem, and working on dial-up I fell behind. I’m back to full strength now, so things should be better. Keep up the good work. Carl
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