She Has Me Trained

There is a newly weaned heifer in the barn that is stupid. Or stubborn. Or maybe she is cunning enough to have me trained to do her bidding. I haven’t figured out for sure which statement is true.

Going on three weeks now, we moved the heifer into the show barn so that I could spend time with her and get her used to sticking her head into the stanchions to reach her food. She is a fairly gentle animal, she is not skittish when I walk near her, she lets me touch her when I am close by, she will even eat pieces of fruit from my hand when I offer her a sliced pear or apple. But she will not stick her head in through the thick metal bars to eat.

When weaning calves that have been used to eating grass in the pasture or hay that is dropped on the ground, the idea of picking their head up and over the ‘v’ shape of the metal bars to eat out of the manger is a foreign concept. Many times it will take several days before a calf figures out the idea, once and a while it will take up to a week. But this heifer simply can’t figure it out.Heifer trying to reach through bars of manger to reach hay. She will stick her nose though gaps in the bars and snag one spear at a time with her long tongue but will not move over a few inches and lift her head.

I have put bales of hay below the fluffy hay and she still reaches through the small bars instead of getting full mouth-fulls.  She tears at the hay and ends up pulling large quantities out by her feet that gets wasted by getting stomped in poop.

Heifer looking at feed in manger.I set hay in a round tub on top of a bale, she will lift stick her head to eat off the top of the tub but once the tub slides to the floor or gets knocked over, she cannot reach any more food.

During the feeding time, all the other heifers are munching happily away. I have to lock them away from this area so I can get this little one to eat. I have to keep moving the tub so she has access to the hay.

This heifer is stupid, or maybe she really is smarter than she appears.




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