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

Yokes and harnesses for cattle

Bow Yoke

The bow yoke is an inexpensive and efficient device for harnessing the power of cattle. When the team pulls, the wooden crosspiece or stock presses back against the muscle and cartilage which forms the front of the animals' withers. This area, very pronounced on some breeds, is called the boss or hump. It provides a natural seat for a yoke.

The yoke is held in place by bows, U-shaped pieces of wood or metal which fit into the stock from underneath. Broad wooden bows provide more surface area than most peg thong or round-iron varieties, and give the animal extra surface to push against with its shoulder. However, there is great advantage in a bow that locks and unlocks under the neck; these bows are easy to remove if a team has fallen and can't or won't get up. To make a yoke:

1) Cut a piece of green (live) wood one meter long. The piece should be thick enough so that once the bark has been peeled off, the pole is 12 cm thick. This pole is called a yoke stock. It should be a variety of wood that will be strong and light and provide a smooth surface for the team to push against.

2) Mark the center of the pole with a piece of charcoal. On either side of this mark make a set of marks. The first mark in the set is 30 cm from the center; the second is 50 cm.

3) Have a carpenter drill a hole though each mark, or have a blacksmith make the holes by burning through the wood with a hot metal point (an awl). The holes must be big enough to let the bows slide in and out freely. They must also be big enough to allow for some shrinkage of the wood. Remember that green wood shrinks as it dries.

Wooden Bow Yoke with Carved Stock, Solid Bows, Draw Ring and Pole Ring.

Plowing Yoke

Weeding Yoke

Source: Dineur, Bruno, Georges Moriers and Pierre Canard. 1976. Guide pratique de la culture atelée au Bénin. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome.

4) Make the bows of round iron 12 mm thick. Have the blacksmith cut four pieces of round iron one meter long and shape them so they fit into the yoke stock as shown in the illustration. The bows lock together so that cotter pins can be passed through to keep the bow from slipping down out of the stock holes. For an explanation of the procedure for putting the yoke on a team, see page 62.

Head Yoke

Most head yokes lock behind the horns and are tied to the forehead and horns with straps. The stock is carved out to accommodate the backs of the horns, and so once the yoke is on, the team becomes an extremely tight unit. They are especially useful for cart work because they keep the shaft (tongue of the cart) from driving the stock forward or back during respective backing and braking situations.

Single animal yokes fit either behind or in front of the horns. Lengths of rope, chain or leather (called traces) connect the ends of the yoke to the load.

Head Yoke

Source: Hopfen, H.J. 1969. Farm Implements for Arid and Tropical Regions. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.

Sling Yokes and Sling Harnesses

This equipment is for single animals performing light work such as weeding or peanut ridging. Many variations are possible, but all are seated over the hump or withers and connected to the load with traces. Use of a surcingle or neck strap gives stability to the traces and prevents the sling from rocking on the animals' neck.

China-Wooden Sling (Unpadded)

Source: Hopfen, Op. Cit.

Muzzle Used During Weeding

West Africa-Sling Made of Padded Steel Bar (Round Iron)

Source: Dineur, Op. cit.

Switzerland-Flexible Sling

Source: Hopfen, Op. Cit.

Breastband Harness for Bull


Breastband Harness

This type of harness is a broad band of leather which circles the animal's chest and sides, and which is supported by a surcingle and backband. The trace is attached where the breastband and backband meet.

The breastband must be high enough on the chest so it does not interfere with movement of the shoulder. Correct position is shown above.

The harness shown was tested on domestic water buffalo in Thailand and shown to be more efficient than commonly-used wooden slings.

Collar Harness

Properly fitted, the collar harness provides excellent draft for cattle and buffalo. These animals have relatively narrow chests and the collar must be shaped so it does not interfere with movement of the shoulder. The collars have been used with success in Germany, the United States, and more recently Thailand.

Collar Harness

Source Hopfen, Op. Cit.

In traction tests performed with domestic buffalo in Thailand, breastband and collar harnesses were shown to be about equal in performance, both types showing a 25 percent increase in draft efficiency over wooden slings. The increase was explained by 1) the greater surface area against which the animal pushes and 2) the increased comfort and related longer working capacity of the animal.