Sunday, May 19, 2024
HomeLivestockBehaviorReading A Cow's Mind As It Learns

Reading A Cow’s Mind As It Learns

CowTryingRangeCubesI can tell anyone how to train their livestock to add new foods to their diet, but sometimes, it’s more than just the steps I need to share. Sometimes success involves just watching animals and trying to figure out what they might be thinking. I can’t describe the process that goes on in my head, but I can show you what it looks like from my perspective with this little video.

In it, you’ll see an example of how I modified the training to meet my students’ needs. They were afraid of the tubs where I was feeding them special treats. So to get them over their fear, we tossed in some food that they understood. A little familiar hay in an unfamiliar feed tub translates to “Oh, I get it! This is where the humans want me to eat!” I hope it will also help you to adjust your expectations. No, trainees don’t run right up and eat everything we give them. They try a little at a time, let their internal feedback mechanisms work, and then with practice, they become very good at eating new foods.


If you haven’t already checked out the training tips for turning your livestock into weed eaters, here’s the article for you: How to Teach Livestock to Eat Weeds.

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Kathy Voth
Kathy Voth
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.

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