This is the third in a series of articles about Samson
Samson has been in the bull pen for several months now with the other yearlings, had his first birthday, has grown to about 900 lbs., and has been sold to another rancher. The rancher will be waiting a couple of months before using his new bull, and has asked us to keep him here at the farm for a month while he gets his farm ready for the addition. Samson will be busy with his new role. In the meantime, we are going to put Samson to work for us during this transition stage.
We needed to get three other bulls broke to lead with halters and we are using Samson to help with that task. Samson is so calm and easy to handle, the other bulls are following his lead. But we had to do it in stages. The three bulls did not like the idea of confinement of any kind. It became an interesting series of steps, sometimes adjusting the normal routine to assure minimal unease for the animals.
The first step was moving the bulls from the bull pen to the barn. These wild and free fellers did a bit of skipping, jumping and general scuffling around as we were trying to keep the momentum headed in the right direction. Once in the barn we had hay ready for them in the manger. They had to put their heads through the stanchions (metal framework that only allows their heads into the manger) to eat. They had eaten in this same manger several months earlier when we weaned them, but it took awhile before they remembered that in order to eat hay they had to put their heads through the bars. Samson did not hesitate and was happily munching within seconds of entering the barn. His noisy munching directed the others to do the same.
For the first couple of days, the halters would be slipped on and off the yearlings as they ate hay. They had to get used to the idea that someone would be moving around next to their heads. Once they were comfortable wearing the halter, they would eat hay easily and not be concerned. At the end of mealtime the halter would be removed.
By the third day, the halters would be tied to the stanchions and the head gate would be opened allowing them to pull their heads back while still be tethered with the halter. They were able to feel the pressure of the halter when they pulled back. Within an hour they found that they could stand with the rope loose and there would be no pressure from the halter. The halters were taken off after about an hour and the yearlings went on about their day as if nothing unusual happened.
We gave them a day of rest on the fourth day and did not put halters on any of the bulls. There feedings were in the manger and fresh mowed grass was the treat of the day.
On the fifth day we once again haltered the bulls at breakfast and let them eat while wearing the halters. After they had eaten all their breakfast, we tied the halters to the stanchions and opened the head gates. With Samson close by, the bulls did beautifully, they were calm and standing with the ropes hanging loose. Mike walked them one by one to a solid gate post. The bulls were unsure why they were being pulled but quickly learned that a smooth forward motion was called for. About an hour later they were walked one by one over to the water tubs, some of them took a drink but a couple didn’t. Samson drank deep slurps until he was full.
The bulls were walked back to the stanchions and locked in, the halters were removed, and the head gates were open so they were free to spend the rest of the day as they wished.