It's not unusual for a cow to be weak or unstable on her feet after birthing; in such circumstances, it's possible for a cow to slip and splay her rear legs, commonly called "splitting out." It's a condition that's very difficult to recover from. To prevent this, some farmers choose to "hobble" an unsteady cow for a few days after calving in order to prevent her from splitting out. Some farmers also hobble cows that are difficult to milk to prevent them from kicking, although this approach isn't effective at training them to stop kicking.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Things you need
- Head shoot
- Cow hobbles
Secure the cow in a head shoot. Although she can still kick, it will prevent her from being able to run away.
Place your hand on her barrel and slowly lower it down her rear leg. This gets her used to your touch. Crouch on the side of the first leg to which you will be attaching the hobbles, not behind it, as you can get kicked there. Make sure there is enough room to be able to back away quickly if she swings her body around and tries to kick you.
Slip the cuff on the cow's leg above the dewclaws. There are a variety of cow hobbles that fasten in different ways, but most of them require pulling a strap through a buckle, much like a belt. Stretch the hobble toward the other leg so you can grab it from the other side without having to lean under the cow.
Walk behind the cow, making a large arc to avoid being within striking range of her hind legs. Fasten the other cuff around her remaining leg just above the dewclaw. Fasten it so it is secure but not so tight that it cuts into her skin when she walks.
Unlatch the head shoot and allow the cow to back out slowly.
Tips and warnings
- Make sure to allow about 3 feet of length between hooves.
- Do not keep the hobbles on for more than a few days, or else it may negatively impact her joints.
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