Cows/Cattle/halter breaking a calf
We have two steers that we are raising for our County fair in August. Each steer came from two different breeders. steer #1 is doing fine and no issues. it is halter broke and has no problems. steer #2 a smaller steer/calf is not halter broke. both steers we have been rasing since Oct 25. steer #2 is our problem child. both steers are being raised in a field together that is fenced in approx. 1/4 arce with a single stall. steer #2 will not really let anyone get to close to him. we have tried almost evrything unless we are missing something? we have tired up the steer for days and only let him loose for for feeding times. the steer is lead to feed and water at those times. the steer behaves fine when tired up and while leading to food or water. we have left the rope halter on him and let him loose in the field dragging the rope halter, but when it comes time for feeding or tie up time the fight is on. we can not just walk up to him and grab the halter, he just takes off. he has done a little better and we have gotten closer to him but not able to walk up to him without him taking off. we have been given several different ideas to break him of this but nothing has worked. PLEASE HELP!
What are these other methods you've been trying with him? Have you tried treats, getting him to eat out of your hand, getting him to come when you have a pail of feed or treats at all? That's one method to try.
But it's probably the way that you are approaching Steer #2. Have you also seen to approach him differently? Perhaps you are approaching him in a way that is making him uncomfortable and forcing him to turn away. The one thing that will make an animal turn away is if you approach directly towards the head. Try coming in toward the shoulder when you come in towards his head. If you come in at his head he will perceive that as a threat or a challenge.
Speed also has a lot to do with how you approach him, because if you approach him too quickly, to him you are lunging for him (like a predator would quickly lunge at prey) and that will make him turn-tail and escape. Go slowly, talk to him, let him know you are there, and if he moves away, stop: Do NOT give chase. Don't get him into thinking that he needs to run away from you, because he already thinks you are a bad thing trying to catch him and he doesn't want that bad thing to get him. You will have to consistently repeat this (do the SAME thing every time, not something different at first because he might get confused) until he starts learning that you are not a threat, not to catch him to tie, nor for feeding.
The other thing to consider is, as I mentioned above, to let him come to you with feed. Feeding time should be a positive, good thing for an animal like him, not a bad thing. If you can get him to come to you for feeding time (instead of forcing him to go to the feed area or avoiding you when feeding time comes), then you will be able to use that to further gentle him. As I said, coax him with feed, wait for him to come to you to eat first right near where you are standing, then out of your hand. Like with the approach method, you will need to repeat this over and over again until he understands you are a good thing and learns to associate you with being a source of good things to come. Like food!
Cattle are highly food-oriented, so use that to the best of your ability. Even if you have to bribe him with a handful of grass.
Also remember to keep calm, quiet, have a lot of patience (probably the most important thing every animal we have in our care teaches us), and never allow yourself to get frustrated, anxious or thinking that bad things are going to happen. (Often if you think something bad's going to happen, it will! Murphy's Law!!) Be positive, and think of nothing but positive thoughts. Animals are really good at reading your body language, and will know when you're up to something and when you are not. Slow, methodical movements will also be of enormous help.
If you have to re-train him and take off the halter, then do so. And if you can separate him from Steer #1 and get him to come to you on his own by himself and on his own terms, that would be great. What I've always done in taming some steers is to just hang out with them for a while (like a half hour or so), and do nothing but just walk around, sit down somewhere and just enjoy your company with them.
The reason I say separate the two is because cattle have a hierarchy in their herd system. I almost think that Steer #1 is dominant and #2 is subordinate and less confident and sure of himself to come near you. You can tell who the dominant one is by the one who always comes to the feed trough first when not tied. Separating them may help you move forward more with Steer #2. I also think that #2 may not consider you as part of the herd, but a kind of mild threat to be tolerated when caught. What I mentioned above should help to teach him that you are simply a part of his herd and not something that's going to catch him and do harm to him.
Everything will take time, patience, persistence, and consistency. Steer #2 seems to be coming through, but may need a slightly calmer and slower approach than what you've been doing with #1. And like with many horse trainers say, end on a positive note. Ending on something positive can be something so subtle like him settling down to graze or going to eat while you're in his company, or even just relaxing and not being so wide-eyed and ear-perky around you. Even just starting to chew his cud is a sign that he's a little more at ease with you. Not that, but he can be just a foot or a few inches closer to you (estimated) than before. Any tiny improvement is always a step in the right direction.
I hope that helps you some. If you've any more questions, I'd be happy to answer to them.