Cover Image
close this book Animal traction
View the document About this manual
View the document About the author
View the document Acknowledgments
close this folder 1. Introduction
View the document What is animal traction?
View the document History of animal traction
View the document Why use animal traction?
View the document Some considerations
View the document How can animal traction be used?
View the document Before beginning: what do you need to know?
close this folder 2. Draft animal selection
View the document Popular draft animals
View the document Determining power requirements
View the document General rules concerning power requirements
View the document Method for determining size of the hitch
View the document Determining weights of animals
View the document Selection of individual draft animals
View the document Conformation
View the document Temperament
close this folder 3. Animal husbandry
View the document Sheller
View the document Nutrition
View the document Grooming
View the document Minor medical problems and first aid
close this folder 4. Training draft animals
View the document Before training begins
View the document General comments on training procedure
View the document Training cattle
View the document Program for training cattle
View the document Training horses, donkeys and mules
View the document Program for training horses, donkeys and mules
close this folder 5. Yokes and harnesses
View the document Yokes and harnesses for cattle
View the document Yokes and harnesses for horses, donkeys and mules
View the document How to harness a horse, donkey or mule
View the document Steering systems
View the document Breeching harness
close this folder 6. Hitches
View the document Safety rules
View the document Implement hitches
View the document Vehicle hitches
View the document 7. Field operations and implements
close this folder 8. Economic and technical assistance
View the document Farm planning assistance
View the document Equipment options
View the document Credit for equipment
View the document Credit for animals
View the document Procedures and controls
close this folder 9. Animal traction extension
View the document Extension education
View the document Appendix A: Animal power
close this folder Appendix B: Animal nutrition
View the document Energy needs: bovine animals
View the document Energy needs: equine animals
View the document Nutrient needs of draft animals: protein, minerals, vitamins
View the document Feeds and feed composition
View the document Calculating a ration
View the document Recommended rations and feeding practices
close this folder Appendix C: Disease recognition and control
View the document Parasites and parasitic disease
View the document Appendix D: Workshop and spare parts inventory
View the document Appendix E: Animal traction instruction forms
View the document Appendix F: Animal breeds used for power
View the document Bibliography
View the document Resources
View the document GIossary

General comments on training procedure

Training draft animals is the process of teaching them to obey commands, accept harnesses and yokes, and pull loads. The person who gives the commands and controls their speed and direction is called the driver. The goal of training is to teach animals to obey the driver's signals so he/she can steer the load (plow, wagon, etc.) and regulate the power of the animal(s) at the same time.

Before an animal is trained, it is "broke" or "broken" and made to recognize the authority of the trainer Breaking an animal is a matter of introducing it to new schedules, procedures and expectations-and teaching it to obey. The word also describes the process of getting an animal used to new behavior or equipment. A bull is broken of aggressive behavior, but broken to harness.

Animals learn at different rates. An animal is considered trained when it responds consistently to commands. This may take as little as two weeks, or as long as two months. Many factors influence the rate of learning: species and breed, individual temperament, health and condition, type of harness equipment used, and skill, patience, and persistence of the trainer.

Animals learn faster, and new owners acquire training skills, when training advances in small, clear steps. Generally speaking, one-and-a-half-hour sessions are used. Two of these sessions are given per animal per day. Training is done in the same location and during the same hours each day. Early morning and late afternoon are good times, as this gives animals time to rest and graze between sessions.

Before any draft animal is harnessed as part of a team, it must individually recognize and obey the voice commands stand, walk, stop, left, right, and back. Commands are given in the language the driver will use. The importance of teaching voice commands cannot be overemphasized. Drivers who must rely on an assistant to control their animals with pulls of a rope or constant whipping get limited performance and results.

Sometimes it is possible to train an animal by putting it in a yoke or harness with a veteran animal. This is a good technique, but it does not eliminate the need for individual training. The driver must be able to control each animal within the team if the team is to pull evenly. This is especially important during turns, or when one animal lags or acts up.

Finally, it should be understood that handling and training methods for cattle differ from those used for equines. This is because these classes of animals have different strengths and temperaments. With horses, donkeys and mules, the overall approach is to use the least severe methods possible, resorting to greater force if needed. With cattle, and particularly bulls, it is important to break the animal of its independence quickly and with carefully applied force. Forceful handling is rarely needed once a bull recognizes your strength and your ability to make it obey.