Halter Training

Halter Training Darling Range Heavens to Betsy Showing cattle can be a rewarding and important part of your stud’s promotion. It gives us the opportunity to compare our best animals to those of other breeders, have faults highlighted and ways of improving our breeding programs explained by industry leaders, promotes our stud direction and presents the breed to prospective buyers, winning ribbons and prize money is a bonus. Investigate what is required to attend any shows you think may be of interest, request the show schedules be sent out to you and start thinking who you may enter. Only take your best animals and you only need one animal per age group, don’t forget to consider group classes - sires’ progeny, pairs and groups of three (you will need extra handlers for these classes). Check the identification requirements, all need NLIS tags in animal’s ears, and some require Pestivirus testing, plus there will be additional considerations if you are part of a QA scheme like the newly introduced JBAS. Allow ample time to get entries submitted, animals registered with DCAI and do the adequate training. We each have our own ideal of the perfect Dexter, but there is no perfect animal per se as we strive to identify and improve the quality of animals in our own herd. We should select those animals that are in the top echelon in our herd, they should have good depth, good width, good length, good temperament and good body condition. Once those animals are identified they should go onto a quality feeding regime for approximately 8 weeks, where paddock conditions are favourable this time may be reduced, but animals need time to adjust to feeding of concentrates. Use of a balanced pellet, with a bulk of chaff is the best and an easier option than mixing your own feed, look for lower protein with good metabolizable energy. A source of good quality hay is also essential when introducing feed. Roughage is key to feeding stock at the show to ensure the rumen functions well and keeps the animal satisfied while in the stalls, ad lib hay is the best way to achieve this. You can also add a product called Livamol to feed which causes the coat to be in peak condition. 2 litre container of Lucerne chaff or Oaten chaff 1 litre container of Barastoc Heifer development pellets 1 handful of Barastock steamed rolled Barley with molasses 1 biscuit hay for each animal add some oil for coat shine add a sprinkle of Pat Colby mineral mix It is assumed that the animals have had previous halter training at weaning, but they will need extra lessons to get them to parade effectively. It is good to use basic consistent commands to get your animal to “walk on” and “stand up”, a good tip is to practice stopping by changing the lead from your right hand to the left hand while turning to face the animal and telling the animal to “stand up”. After a while we found our animals started to slow and stand up simply by changing hands on the lead rope, no verbal commands needed, but this takes quite a bit of practice to achieve. Always parade an animal with its head held up so that it looks alert, this gives your animal a good profile while walking. Once you can get your animal walking smoothly and standing when required, the next task is to have a look at the placement of the animal’s feet, they should be placed squarely underneath them. The easiest way to achieve this is to work with another person who will tell you when the animal looks at its best from side on. Swap over handlers so you can look at your animal side on to get the idea how best to place your animal’s feet. A show stick is useful, but not easy to use for novices. If you want to use a show stick take some time getting your animal used to the stick by scratching the animal firstly on the back, then down the rump and legs, before trying to move their feet. Many animals will kick when you first try the show stick, but it is worth practicing, when putting pressure on the flesh in the middle of the hooves just above the claws say “back”, over time you will be able to just say “back” and they will move their foot. To bring a foot forward put the stick at the back of the foot and pull it forward say “bring it up” and eventually they will do that on command also. Trim Hooves prior to the show if needed. You can either do this yourself or get in a professional. The Hoof angle to the ground should be 45 degrees.