Breaking your show cow requires gaining her trust and then helping her to accept various things, like a halter and grooming, that cows aren’t usually accustomed to. Breaking your show cow starts at home, not at the show. Generally, the earlier you start working with your cow, the better results you will achieve.
Handle your cow daily starting when she is about 3 or 4 months old if possible. Put her in a stall away from her mother. Start by gaining her trust with calf starter feed: Hand-feed her a small amount. When you are finished, turn her back out with her herd. If your cow is already weaned, keep her in a separate pen from the herd and work with her.
Train your cow to walk with the halter on. After you've gained her trust, put a well-fitting halter on her with a lead rope attached. Wear leather gloves to do so. Tie your cow to a safe, secure post for about an hour at a time. This teaches her patience and not to fight the rope; she'll learn to stop when you apply pressure to a lead rope when leading her.
Wear your gloves and lead her with the rope toward a bowl of feed. The feed is her reward for walking with you. It may take several days of working with her to help her understand that you want her to walk with you and not just to the feed. Move the feed around the area so she isn’t going to the same place every day.
Practice with your cow, teaching her to walk slowly and take small steps. Walk on her left side and keep her behind your right shoulder when leading her. When she learns to lead and stand tied comfortably, start combing and brushing her. This gets her accustomed to being handled and groomed.
Groom your show cow daily when weather permits. Rinse her with water and brush her. Teach her to accept new tools, like the hair dryer, by standing away from her while the dryer is running and walking toward her slowly. If she gets upset, take a step back and wait until she is calm to move forward again.
- Get someone to help you if your cow refuses to walk. Simply have your helper walk toward her until she moves forward.
- Work with your cow in a safe, enclosed area. Never stand behind your cow. She may kick and can harm you.
Amanda Maddox began writing professionally in 2007. Her work appears on various websites focusing on topics about medical billing, coding, real estate, insurance, accounting and business. Maddox has her insurance and real estate licenses and holds an Associate of Applied Science in accounting and business administration from Wallace State Community College.