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close this bookBetter Farming Series 14 - Farming with Animal Power (FAO - INADES, 1977, 57 p.)
close this folderWorking animals
close this folderOxen
close this folderTraining oxen
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View the documentHarnessing oxen with a yoke
View the documentHow to train oxen
View the documentHow many hours a day can oxen work?

Harnessing oxen with a yoke

A yoke is a piece of wood placed on the heads or necks of oxen which is used for pulling farm implements.

The yoke must be made of strong wood; it must not be too heavy; it should weigh 6 to 9 kilogrammes.

· The neck yoke

There are neck yokes for harnessing a single ox, and yokes for harnessing two oxen together.

The yoke is placed on the neck of the animals.

When the oxen pull, the yoke settles down in the right place.

Farmers can easily make such a yoke, or the village blacksmith or carpenter can do it.

It is used mainly for zebu oxen which have a longer and weaker neck than some other oxen.

With the neck yoke you cannot make the animals walk backward because the yoke is not fastened to them.

With the neck yoke the animals have more freedom but they more easily spoil the crops during cultivation.

Double neck yoke for two oxen

· The head yoke

The head yoke is placed behind the horns and is tied to them with rope or thongs of leather.

In order not to injure the animal put a pad of straw or kapok wrapped in cloth between the yoke and the head.

Hook for a fixing chain

A yoke with its chains costs between 1 500 and 2 000 CFA francs.

The head yoke

· The single yoke

The single yoke is used to harness one animal.

A chain is fixed to either side of the single yoke.

Single neck yoke

It can also be used as a collar, in the same way as for donkeys (see page 37).

A collar

Ox with collar

How long should the yoke be?

The yoke should be rather short. The oxen should be quite close to each other. But there should be 20 to 25 centimetres between the two oxen so that the chain that pulls the tool does not bother them.

So the yoke should be 1.10 to 1.30 metres long. If the animals have large horns, make the yoke a little longer.

For certain work, like ridging or cultivating between rows of crops, longer yokes are sometimes used, so that there are two rows of crops between the two animals.

So you must have two yokes, a short yoke and a long yoke.

Two oxen harnessed with a long yoke for cultivating