How to Make a Cattle Halter

Updated November 21, 2016

Cattle halters are used on dairy farms to lead animals from one location to another, and are also used for leading cattle in competitions. This simple halter consists of an adjustable loop that's placed over the animal's nose for control, another loop that goes over the head to hold it in place, and a lead rope. Making your own halters allows you to fit each animal exactly, and to ensure that you have a supply available for emergencies. Use good quality nylon rope about 1/2 inch thick, ideally with a soft texture that will not rub a cow's head. The ideal rope is flexible enough to knot, but strong enough to hold an adult cow.

Seal one end of the rope using a lit match, taking care not to breath in the fumes. Wrap electrical tape round the end to secure it.

Measure 15 inches from the sealed end of the rope, and open the strands at that point by working them apart with your fingers. Push the sealed end of the rope through from right to left to make a loop. At about a inch along the main rope, open the strands again. Bend the sealed rope end back on itself and push it back through the main rope from left to right. You should end up with a small loop no more than 2 inches in diameter secured into the main rope by a twist on the other side.

Lay the halter out on a table. You should now have a short length of rope that will form a band across the front of the nose, a 2-inch loop and the rest of the rope. Lay the short end out horizontally with the loop at one end, and bend the long piece of rope up at right angles to the 2-inch loop. Continue to bring this round in a loop until it meets the end of the nose band. This large loop will form the headstall, and should be about 30 inches long. Knot the main rope loosely to the short end of the noseband, making sure the knot will lie away from the cow's face when the halter is on.

Hold the halter up by the top of the headstall so it falls into shape. You should now have a headstall and the front piece of the noseband. To complete the noseband and make a closed circle, take the long end of the rope and run it across to the 2-inch loop. Thread it through, and tie a knot in the end of the remaining rope. This will become a lead rope.

Try the halter on the cow by placing the noseband over its muzzle and bringing the headstall over and behind the ears. Make any adjustments to size before tightening the knot on the noseband.


Make several halters in different sizes and leave them at different points around the barn for emergencies.


Make sure all knots are tight before using the halter. Rope can cause friction burns if it drags through your hands; wear gloves when halter breaking or handling a cow for the first time.

Things You'll Need

  • 15-foot length of three-strand rope
  • Match
  • Electrical tape
  • Knife
  • Tape measure
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