Driving Dairy Cattle - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 10-16-2012, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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Driving Dairy Cattle

I wasn't sure where to put this but I figured cutting cattle is groups so maybe you will be able to point me in the right direction.

The in-laws have 200 dairy cattle and within the past few years they have started grazing them vs having them in the barn a majority of the time. This spring he took on some new pastures from neighbors to put heifers on so they could be out all summer too.

the father-in-law keeps dreaming of leap frogging the heifers to/from the pastures vs putting up a temporary corral, loading 5-7 animals and hauling them.

So my question is whats the best way to introduce the cows/heifers to the horses, and horses to the cows. The 2 riding horses don't seem to mind the cows at all, but the older cows do seem a bit curious/cautious of me on horseback.

Ideally it would be 30-75head, 2 horses, probably some areas poly wired off (neighbors lawns, ect...) 4 wheeler, and a truck ahead to stop traffic. the first heifer pasture is probably 2 miles then the second one another 2 miles from there.

any good ways to do this? or farther ahead to just buy a larger stock trailer and a few more pannels?
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post #2 of 9 Old 10-16-2012, 12:41 PM
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You get dairy cows stampeding and you are going to do them some serious harm.
If you can get them totally calm around the horses thats the only safe way to approach it.
Is there any way the horses could be turned out next to them and then once they get used to seeing them around put them in the same pasture.
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post #3 of 9 Old 10-16-2012, 12:53 PM Thread Starter
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it could be done. when they are yound (3-6months old) would it be benificial to ride in the pasture amoung them?

the cows stay home so not a big deal just trying to figure out how to introduce and get the heifers used to the horses so everyone stays calm.

a lot easier to walk 2 miles than it is to round up heifers that have gone off the deep end
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post #4 of 9 Old 10-16-2012, 01:05 PM
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One sure way to move dairy cattle is having them used to being fed off a tractor and then just go in front with tractor, they will follow. Some people on foot or horseback behind and prepared to get any strays and you should be good to go. Did that. Only problem was a huge cornfield we had to pass and one cow decided to play hide-and-seek
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post #5 of 9 Old 10-16-2012, 01:34 PM
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It doesn't matter - dairy or beef - they tend to initially be curious about the horse. We weaned some spring beef calves this past weekend. They are penned next to our old timers (horses). The calves try to talk to the horsers. My gelding nips them if they annoy too much.

Last night when I brought one of my young mares in to work - the calves set to bawling. No way does my mare look like anyone's mama but the calves simply saw something bigger than they were.

For a lot of work with horses, dairy cattle tend to be more lazy and even lay down. Steers of both types tend to view work as - work and simply shut down. Even cattle that have been around horses their entire lives can have spooky run off moments.

If you want to herd them with the horses, just take it slow and talk as if you are pushing them on the ground as you do when you bring them in for milking. Make sure to find the leader of the herd and keep an eye on her. If she listens, typically the rest will follow suit.
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post #6 of 9 Old 10-16-2012, 10:00 PM
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As a general rule handling yearlings against older bred cows there is a difference. And I have noticed a difference between breeds but a huge factor is how they are handled. Whether it is 4 wheeler, truck, bale on a tractor, dogs, humans on foot or horseback they will act different if you introduce a new way of moving them.

Yearlings are a little tougher to handle, you have to push, move their feet and get them looking in the direction you want them to go, almost like you would moving a horse. Also leading them helps, especially with Holstiens, they can't seem to find a hole on their own, they have to be shown. We used to bawl to them, get them hooked on, and they would follow a horse into a set of pens, if you can get the first couple to come through the rest will follow....like a train, don't worry about the ass end, direct your lead steers/heifers/cows the rest will follow.

You might want to get them used to being pushed around horseback and respect a horse in the pasture before trotting them down the road and have to worry about controlling them on a busy road or gracefully getting them out of someones yard with out damage. Depending on the road, state or county you are in, it may require an escort, whether it be a county sheriff deputy or state trooper.

Good Luck!
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post #7 of 9 Old 10-16-2012, 10:49 PM
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Cows move at their own speed and it is rarely more than a walk. It is good to remember that they have "nothing but time." And there is a saying about "We're in a hurry, so go slow."

It's great if they will follow a horse. Most will, if they've been handled easily.

My long time buddies and I have a scoring system that grades how well we did on a day.

1) You have to be able to hear the birds. Kind of hard now that most have flown south from here, but you get the idea: No getting the cattle stirred up and bawling.

2) Deducting points for cattle trotting. Sure cattle will break into a trot going down hill, just like horses tend to trot partway up a hill, it's partly due to their body types. But, no breakaway trotting or running.

And just like you're training a horse every time you are near him, the same holds true for cattle.
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post #8 of 9 Old 10-17-2012, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by tim62988 View Post
it could be done. when they are yound (3-6months old) would it be benificial to ride in the pasture amoung them?

the cows stay home so not a big deal just trying to figure out how to introduce and get the heifers used to the horses so everyone stays calm.

a lot easier to walk 2 miles than it is to round up heifers that have gone off the deep end
We had horses around the young cattle all the time so they were used to them. We never put horses in with milkers as always a risk of them having a gallop around that would set the cows off but riding quietly through them shouldn't be a problem once they've got used to seeing your horses around. The other consideration with putting horses in with any cow thats old enough to 'feel in the mood' is that they arent always too fussy about what they jump on (the cows) and a horse may not take too kindly to that sort of attention
We used to follow on horses/ponies from one field that only had a track access but always had two border collie dogs that were trained to herd cattle that did the work
Dairy cows are very much creatures of habit so learn a routine and a route that they then like to stick too- something my mother soon realised when she decided to turn what had been their track from pasture to dairy into part of her garden and give them a new track.
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post #9 of 9 Old 11-25-2012, 05:48 PM
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My first thought is make sure you have a GOOD lead rider, one experienced enough that they can pull the lead up if they get a trot on and keep them hooked on enough to get them where you need them.

if you have a good lead rider on a good horse, then you just need a couple others watching the wings and the tail to pick up any that wander out and you should be fine. The lead is what I would be worried about.

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