Looking for advice/tips....

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4Rcattle

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Sep 10, 2015
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We have had my daughter's steer for 3 weeks tomorrow. The first week we had him, we took it easy as far as handling him.....trying to let him get settled. He had been lead and worked with a little when we got him - so we didn't have to "break" him completely. For the most part, he's good. He ties well, leads well and isn't aggressive. He's been washed/dried/brushed several times and been in the scales. He is a little sensitive to things around his head and still looks around at times for anything out of the ordinary. The biggest problem we are having is when we are working him in the evenings (leading him and practicing setting up with a showstick) he's not consistent as far as his behavior. Some days he does great - leading, setting up, behavior etc. Other days he acts like he's scared of everything and is a jerk the whole time. Two days this week while my daughter was setting him up he got spooked (seemed like it came out of nowhere) and broke away from her. She can't possibly hold him - he's almost 800lbs to her 120. Anyway, this is one of many steers that we've had and I feel like I shouldn't have to ask for advice or tips but I'm going to. I'm trying not to get frustrated with him but it's hard.....like I said he just isn't consistent in his behavior. Any advice or tips will be appreciated. I feel like I'm be impatient by worrying about it so early but it just makes me anxious when he breaks away. Thanks!
 

Gargan

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Do you have a radio playing in the barn with him? Sometimes that helps to get them use to noise . Do you have a dog? Anything out of the ordinary to take around at feeding time can also help (as long as the dog ignores him).
 

4Rcattle

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We have a radio going 24-7. We also have last year's show heifer with him so he's not alone. We take the dog and cat with us to the barn regularly as well as drive the lawn mower and ranger by the barn. I have walked him all over the barn - he has been in every corner of the barn and if he seems scared of something, I let him walk as close as he wants and smell it/check it out.
 

Tallcool1

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Take the halter out of your daughter's hands and keep it in your hands for a little while.

He won't get away from you, and right now that is absolutely the most important thing.  Once they figure out that they can get away we have our hands full.

You work the steer for a couple weeks, and then slowly bring your daughter back in the mix.  At first, you hang on to him and have her stick him. 

Also, small confined spaces are good.  They just don't have anywhere to go and are much easier to hang on to. 

If he isn't mean, you're going to be just fine. 
 

vc

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melatonin, start him on 30 mg and see if it does not take the edge off of him. We had one just like it, a really nice Friction steer, one day he would be fine the next spook and get real worked up over nothing. We put him on melatonin and just kept working with him, you could feel him start to get worked up, as soon as you got the inclination he was about to lose it we would snub him to a rail and just wait it out, it took a few weeks but we got there. (he had to stay on the melatonin the whole time) you may have to adjust the dosage up or down depending on how he reacts. The melatonin helps but it still takes time and patience.

We helped a girl out this year, calf was fine tied and in the wash rack but a pistol when being led, she gave him melatonin and worked with him every day, well by the time they should have been going to the fair she had him leading and setting up perfect but with no fair to take him to. I talked to her mom recently and she thinks that the steer, although a pain in the rear, definitely helped her daughter grow, she had bad days and good but in the end her persistence and hard work paid off.
 

4Rcattle

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Well the bad thing is he does get away from me.....I’m not much bigger than my daughter plus I have back issues. He’s very stout for his size. He doesn’t break away when leading....only when standing completely still when being set up.....which makes no sense to me. It literally just happened an hour ago. I led him around, walked him into “profile”. I moved one back foot, be moved the other and I tried moving it back. Before I knew it he had pulled back on the halter and broke away. I started him on melatonin yesterday and we will see if that helps. I know this is something we will just have to keep working on but like I said, it’s frustrating. Thanks to everyone for your replies and for being nice about it!
 

4Rcattle

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I meant to add.....I would get my husband to help...he’s 6’7 and a big guy but the steer doesn’t like him- that alone gets him worked up. When my daughter and I are working him he’s fine behavior wise....he isn’t crazy or aggressive at all. I don’t want to add to the stress by including someone he doesn’t like. I’m hoping the melatonin will help along with just hard work!
 

shortybreeder

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Feb 23, 2015
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4Rcattle said:
Well the bad thing is he does get away from me.....I’m not much bigger than my daughter plus I have back issues. He’s very stout for his size. He doesn’t break away when leading....only when standing completely still when being set up.....which makes no sense to me. It literally just happened an hour ago. I led him around, walked him into “profile”. I moved one back foot, be moved the other and I tried moving it back. Before I knew it he had pulled back on the halter and broke away. I started him on melatonin yesterday and we will see if that helps. I know this is something we will just have to keep working on but like I said, it’s frustrating. Thanks to everyone for your replies and for being nice about it!
Try setting him up while he's tied to a post/gate/panel. Then you can get that practice in without building on the bad habits.
 

4Rcattle

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That's a good idea....it's worth trying. I made the mistake of putting on one of the cruise control halters and was planning on trying that......not a good idea at all...he flipped out as soon as I started walking him out of the gate - had to pen him and get the dang thing off. Now I'm worried if I've spooked him with anything other than a rope halter! Again, thanks for all of the advice.
 

CAB

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Does he usually pull back and away or forward and down and away? If forward and away, keep him by a fence close on his right hand side and if / when he is going to go, step in so that he has to run into the fence so that he doesn't have any place to go. Good luck !!
 

4Rcattle

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He pulls back and away. It usually starts with him just gently pulling back or trying to walk back and then he jerks and gets away.
 

WinterSpringsFarm

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I had a heifer 2 years ago that acted just like your steer.  Some days when working her she was show broke and perfect.  Other days she would drag ya if you could hold on.  She got away from me several times, other times I was able to hold on and get her calmed down.  She was super inconstant and unpredictable.  I tried the melatonin and just about everything else.  I ended up giving up on her because I just didn't trust her and figured the show ring would be a nightmare.

If I had to do it all over again I would have used a donkey, and that is my recommendation for you as well.

Good Luck and and let us know how you make out.
 

4Rcattle

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Update:
The melatonin seems to be making a difference as far as him being calmer. After 2 days on melatonin, he was doing much better (he's even walking slower!). Knock on wood....he hasn't tried to break away again. We are also setting him up with him facing the fence and not spending a lot of time "picking" at his feet with the show stick (that seemed to irritate him). He does better if we just walk him around and back into place. Thanks again for all of the advice/tips! Still hoping and praying he keeps doing better each day.
 

CAB

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One of the things that happens if he's backing away from you is that when a calf does that the next thing that is going on is that the person leading him/her is that it seems like the rope person is kinda running at the calf with the show stick waving back and forth in front of the calf making the situation escalate quickly. IMO if the calf gets to pulling back hard first drop the stick so that it's not making the situation worse and you have both hands to try to stop him easier. I'd suggest using the stick just to scratch his belly and brisket area only until he gets to love the stick b4 you try to work on foot placement. If you can when you are going to stop him and try working with him a little bit of time place him in an area where when/if he backs up he backs himself into a corner or fence o that he can't go too far b4 hitting something that will help the lead person get him back under control. Good luck.
 

4Rcattle

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Sep 10, 2015
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Another update...not really a good one!
How does that saying go? Two steps forward and one step back or one step forward and two steps back?? Either way, that's about how yesterday went. Granted, there are several factors that I think played a role in the catastrophe. To sum it up....he broke away 8 times total. Each time, we caught him, tied him up for a little while then started over as far as walking him and setting him up. He was fine for me....but would not let my daughter touch him with the show stick without taking off. She eventually was able to scratch him in his brisket area and he was ok with that. We worked and worked until he successfully walked and set-up and let her scratch him for a period of time. Factors that I think (know) let to this....he barely ate anything yesterday (ate about 1/2 of his normal amount in the am and nothing in the pm), this means no melatonin in his system (I could tell a difference in how "spooky" he was when compared to the last two days). He was also running a temp of 103.8. The heat index was 115 so I wasn't too worried about that (he was back in the normal range when I took it this morning). I'm hoping today is a better day. It wasn't good and took about an hour and a half total to finally get him acting like we wanted. Hard work pays off right?? I'm hoping all of this pays off in the end!
 

4Rcattle

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Sep 10, 2015
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I don't mind at all....he is a Solid Gold.

This evening started out the same as before - it's like as soon as my daughter goes to change hands with the halter and show stick after she stops him, he takes off. He does fine with me. He did this once and we tied him up. I had my daughter stand there with her hand on the halter and scratch all over him with the show stick. He was fine. After that I walked him and set him up, then she walked him (without the show stick) and walked him into position. Then I would start scratching him and give the show stick to my daughter. He was still a little on edge but didn't take off again. We did that a few more times before we let him go. Maybe we should just start back at square one and take it easy working back to where we were..... I really don't know.
 

shortybreeder

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Feb 23, 2015
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Sounds like all the issues have centered around the show stick. Maybe focus on getting him more comfortable and stopping the "escapes" and let the show stick action go on the back burner for a bit?
 
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