How do you tame an unhandled, terrified Dexter calf? I'm sharing my secrets in this video.
- Fill a bucket with tasty treats -- something sweet is ideal. I mix a beef pellet with crushed corn, oats, and barley and then sprinkle a little agricultural molasses on top and mix well. The molasses keeps them coming back. Keep these treats minimal until the rumen has had a chance to acclimate to prevent bloat.
- Place the treat bucket on the ground and walk away. Watch from a distance.
- Once the calf associates the bucket with yummy treats, it's time to hold the bucket. Use a yard chair at first because it can take quite some time before some calves feel comfortable approaching. BE PATIENT.
- Once the calf will eat out of the bucket while you're holding it, you should charge a "scratch tax" for all treats. This means every time they get a treat from the bucket, they must allow you to touch them. No more free treats! Continue this until the calf stays calm regardless of where you touch them.
- Next, you should move to asking the calf to follow the bucket. Give the calf a taste of the treats and then walk a good distance away. The calf should follow. Do this several times in each practice session along with the "scratch tax".
- When your calf has mastered all this - it's time to halter and begin post training.
Some calves will do this in a day. Some will take weeks. The key is patience. If you ever lose your cool, the lesson will leave a negative feeling for the animal and the training may or may not be a success.
I was able to successfully teach an 18-month-old heifer to walk on a halter using this exact method. It's much easier with a calf 4-6 months old but if you're patient, if can be done at almost any age.