First Training Session With Poppy

We are working on treat manners and targeting. Cows present completely different problems when it comes to treat manners than horses. With horses we mostly worry about biting. Also staying out of our space and not smashing us, but differently than we have to worry about cows. Not that I am exactly sure what it is I am going to have to worry about with a cow and clicker training. I do know the usual problems and ways to get hurt with cows though.
Cows can bite but they don’t have teeth on the top, only bottom in front. Biting pinches but doesn’t usually break the skin or hurt quite as bad as a horse. I’ve been bit by far more cows than horses actually 😉
What cows do that can get youhurt much worse is head butt. It’s how they fight each other and how they defend their calves from coyotes. In the video here she is doing some resource guarding. Baa, our goat, has gotten too close and is making her nervous. She is starting to rub her head on me and push a little. I am more active in dissuading that behavior with my elbow, a touch of positive punishment, than I would be with a horse. That little bit is fairly dangerous. A cow that isn’t scared of you at all is far more dangerous than one that just keeps her distance. They will be more likely come up and eat you during calving if you have to mess with their calves and without fear, or well taught manners are just more likely to run you over. Good manners are very important.
Horses will at least try not to step on things under their feet. Cows just walk all over anything on the ground.If they knock you down you can get good and smashed.
To avoid all of that we are being very careful about manners. This is our first go and she’s starting to get the idea. We had to move out of the way to let a bull go past. He asked us to move very politely. All the cattle are just finishing up their breakfast, ground hay with corn mixed in. There are round bales waiting for them. They have free choice hay available at all times.  Poppy is completely free to go any time she chooses. This will be a fun and interesting learning experience for me no matter what she ends up learning. Completely +R, except for the little bits of +P I add to keep myself safe.  She doesn’t have a halter or want to be touched so there will be no pressure based training involved. I can’t wait to see where we go with it!
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