Introduction: How to Halter Break a Calf

My name is Mitchell Schmidt. I am 17 years old and have been working with show cattle the past 10 years. I have successfully halter broke over 100 head of calves. I was taught no matter how bad the situation is, never let go of the rope. Summer cattle shows are over and fall is the time to break new show calves. Halter breaking calves can be a challenge but exciting as it is the beginning of a new show season. I will give the steps on how to halter break a calf the slow and easy way without having to let go of the rope.

Step 1: Taming the Calf

Supplies needed to halter break a calf are a calf, ring rope halter, comb, show stick, leather gloves and patience. First, start by getting the calf relaxed and comfortable. I like to bucket feed my calves for weeks before halter breaking so the calf is familiar and comfortable with me. Stay near the calf while the calf is eating and gradually move closer and closer to the calf. Halter breaking a calf is usually easier with a younger calf instead of a full grown one. I usually halter break calves several weeks after weaning from the cow.

Step 2: Halter

Then, halter breaking time. Put the calf in a head gate to put the halter on. I use a ring rope halter. Comb and scratch the calf in the chute to calm the calf. I suggest wearing leather gloves to protect hands when halter breaking a calf.

Step 3: Comb

Next, chase the calf to a pen and tie to a panel. Stay near the calf and gradually move closer to the animal. Comb and scratch the calf. Calves usually like to be scratched and will begin to calm down. If a calf won’t let me near them to comb, I use a show stick to scratch the calves back and gradually get closer and closer until I can use the comb. Keep the calf tied for several hours and don’t leave unattended.

Step 4: Leading

Start again the next day with the same steps and gradually tie for longer. After several days of tying and scratching the calf, untie the rope and begin to practice leading the calf. Lead the calf for a short distance. Pull on the calf until the calf begins to walk forward. Release the pressure on the rope to reward the calf for walking. Continue to pull and release until the calf is walking. This step will take several days to practice.

Step 5: Summary

While halter breaking a calf, stay calm, use a quiet voice, reward the calf with scratching and feed to build a positive relationship. Halter breaking a calf takes a lot of time and patience. These are the steps on one way to halter break a calf successfully. There are no magical halters or lucky brushes. There is hard work, dedication and a will to succeed.