Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Humans Training Cows, Cows Training Humans.

I haven't posted much about Miss Pearl since bringing her home.  Maybe because at first I was just so frustrated that we weren't bonding and she was being a pain.  Anyways, we have worked out our differences and are on the fast track to where we need to be.

It was hard for her to learn that this relationship was to be a dictatorship not a democracy.  Whether or not I'm a tyrannical dictator is up to her.  We have had some issues along the way.  She has come at me a few times, and it took all I had to stand my ground.  To be dominate cow, you have to stand your ground.  After a swift bop across the head she quickly learned.

Fast forward about three weeks.  She lets me touch her and milk her, but she just won't stand still long enough that I would be able to finish milking.  Pumba still isn't weaned.  I want to wait until I have Pearl trained how I want before I wean him.  I would have to have gone through all this trouble and she dries up on me.

Because she won't stand long enough for me, I am forced to begin head lock training.  After our initial trial of locking her in went horrible, I was really nervous.  Nathan had adjusted the width of the bars because they had been really tight, making her think that we were trying to kill her, which was why she put up such a fight.

Shown with headcatch open.

So far training has gone like this:

Day 1 - Pearl saunters into the stanchion and puts her head into the opened headlock to munch down on her alfalfa.  She had to squeeze her head in because I had closed one side.  She didn't seen to mind so onto phase 2.  I started closing the other bar, not locking it, just pushing it against her neck so she could feel it.  She still didn't seem to mind.

Day 2 - Today when she came in, I shut and locked her head in.  It took a couple minutes for her to realize what I had done.  I was prepared for a fight.  She pulled her head back a few times, but when I gave her a couple treats she calmed down.  She would occasionally test the bars, but no fight.  All was good until Nathan entered into the stall on the other side.  She tensed up and started peeing.  This is NOT allowed in the milking parlor and I quickly let her know in my sternest, no-nonsense voice usually reserved for subbing in the middle school, that I wouldn't put up with that.  She stopped and once she relaxed I started rubbing her and talking nice again.  I only kept her locked up for about 7 minutes.

Her spread.  The brown things on top are her treats, or animal feed cake.

Day 3 - After her upset yesterday, I didn't know if she would willingly put her head back into the lock.  I had to point and order her to, but she did.  This time I didn't give her more treats as she ate, and let her run out.  After about 5 minutes she was getting agitated but I stood my ground.  I let her loose after a grand total of 8 minutes.

Day 4  - This was not our best day.  She came in fine, but the moment I locked her in she seemed uptight.  For the first time ever she kicked.  I'm not sure if it was directed towards me or at her calf that was trying to nurse.  She just wouldn't behave herself and I kicked her out.  Of course to end on a good note, I gave her a few scratches (which she didn't like) and locked her out of the milking parlor.  From now on if she wants her alfalfa she will have to be locked in.

Day 5 (today) - Much better day.  Came storming in ready to eat!  Locked her up and keep her there for 10 minutes.  Tomorrow I will see how long she will stand nicely locked up when she runs out of food.

Locked in and chowing down.


  1. Keep up the good work! One of the tricks we (takes two people) use is one of us holds the tail straight up and back a little (towards her head). This doesn't hurt the cow but they don't like it and it keeps them from lifting their feet and they have to stand still for balance. You could at least get in a full milking thereby showing Ms Pearl what the goal is. Hope your progress continues!

  2. Great update. Things are progressing in your favour.

  3. Many years ago when I was a child, my father kept a radio on, playing music, in the barn when the cows were being milked. It might help to calm Pearl.


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