Tips For Halter Breaking Calves

Having your cattle halter broke makes life a lot easier. The best time to halter break a bovine is when it is a calf. Sure, you can do it at any age but there is a lot less fighting and a lot less brute strength required when halter breaking calves. The older you get, the more you appreciate that. It is my goal to be able to walk up to any of our 60 some head of cattle and put a halter on their head and lead them to the barn. This is a reality because my children halter break most of the cattle when they are young. Halter breaking calves isn’t rocket science but if you don’t follow some basic rules you will ruin the calves and cause more harm than good. Lets look at some of the basic rules to halter breaking calves…

Have A Proper Sized Halter

When halter breaking a calf it is important that you use a halter that properly fits the calf. Don’t try to use a cow halter on a calf. Buy a rope halter that is sized for a calf and save yourself some grief.

Be Patient

Baby calves have very short attention spans. Keep your training sessions short and ALWAYS end on a positive note.

Tug and Release

The proper way to halter break a calf is to gently tug on the halter until the calf takes a step forward. As soon as the calf takes a step you need to release the pressure on the halter. This is the reward for taking the step. As previously mentioned, it is important to end on a positive note; before the calf loses interest. Never end a session with the calf refusing to step. The last thing that happens is what will stick with the calf.

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*Note~ (for very stubborn calves tie them up with the halter for few hours. They will soon learn that fighting it will not get them anywhere)

Make It Enjoyable

After finishing the session, before the calf loses interest and on a positive note, you should reward the calf some more. Give her a little grain, brush her and pet her. Make the experience something the calf looks forward to.


Training calves to lead is something that pays dividends over the life of the animal. The ability to easily halter and work with cattle begins when they are young. If you follow these simple tips, you will be able to halter break your calves and reap the rewards.

4 thoughts on “Tips For Halter Breaking Calves

  • May 26, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I’ll have to be more deliberate in training the little heifers. Thank you,


  • May 28, 2015 at 7:24 am

    I loved halter breaking calves. I used to do one every year for 4H. One thing I would add is after they understand a tug means walk, do frequent stopping with them giving a verbal signal, backward pressure on the halter and a hand on their shoulder. Nothing worse that being on the end of a halter of an animal that peaces out on you!

  • August 6, 2017 at 7:45 am

    I haven’t tried this yet but I will and hope it is successful


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