How to Make Your Farm Animals Like You

If you have ever worked with farm animals, you know how difficult it can be if they escape their fenced in area. You understand the panic of trying to wrangle them all back in. Speaking of fences, check out this post on how to build a high tensile electric fence. They usually never go the direction you want them to. Living close to a highway or busy road makes this even more of a high stress situation. We’ve all been there, chasing down farm animals that run from you like you have the plague. It’s frustrating, stressful, and can take the joy out of raising livestock. I’m here to tell you how to make your farm animals like you.

Imagine your farm animals following you everywhere you go. How much easier would your daily chores be. It’s also just more fun. There is something fun about being a leader, head of the line and being followed wherever you go. In the image below the cows are following me as I am walking backwards taking their picture. All I have in my hand is my camera. They would follow me all around the pasture like this. They have no idea what I am doing. I have no food for them, but they are trained to follow us around. Everyone in our family can lead these animals, they’re not specific to one farmer. So how did we train them?

cows in a pasture following the farmer

The way to an animals heart

As the old saying goes “a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, this is also true for farm animals.

I think I first learned this trick back when we had goats. Our goats were friendly and would follow us around as long as they heard us shaking a bucket with food. But if they didn’t see or hear that bucket, they would go about their business completely ignoring us.

We bought our Billy goat from a farm that sold registered Boer goats. While we were there picking him up we toured the farm and I was very impressed. They had hundreds of goats, maybe not literally hundreds, but there were goats all over this place. They had them separated depending on their age, breed, and gender.

It didn’t matter which pen we went into, they all acted the same. They were very friendly and begged for attention. I felt like we were at a petting zoo. The kids loved it.

That’s when the farmer spilled her secret to training her goats. Horse treats. It’s like candy for the goats. They love it and will in return love whoever is giving them these sweet treats.

We bought a bag and tried them on our goats. It was like magic. I noticed a difference after a couple days of giving them these horse treats. As soon as they saw us coming to the gate, they would run over to great us. They still continued to do this even when we didn’t have any treats for them.

We buy Purina Apple and Oat Horse Treats that we get at Tractor Supply. This is not a sponsored post and we are not an affiliate of Tractor Supply.

One thing I would mention is to remember to use caution with your kids around the farm animals. Our kids love to help and be involved in the day to day operation of the farm. We feel pretty comfortable with how the animals behave and interact with the kids.

Animals tend to get aggressive when it comes to eating. One thing we have to watch out for is the cows fighting with the donkeys over food. The last thing I want is for the kids to get in the middle of that. So sometimes we give them their treats from behind the gate.

Never underestimate the power of love and attention

Another sure fire way to make your farm animals like you is by giving them lots of love and attention. Spending time outside with your farm animals will help you feel more connected with them and vice versa. Who doesn’t love a good scratch behind the ears?

As a bonus it will increase your mood as well and keep your focus as to why you started farming in the first place. In my opinion there is no better place to be than in the field with your animals.

This is especially important for your kids. Taking care of animals boost their confidence. Also being a part of the day to day operation of the farm gives them extremally valuable life skills.

The donkeys’ former owner would sit in the field and talk to them. Naturally, when we got them they were very tame and love all the attention we give them. They seem to especially love children.

I will confess that I am a fair weather farmer, so I am more willing to be outside with the animals when the weather is nice and sunny. The rest of the time I look out the window watching Andrew give them love and attention. Just kidding, not really, I really don’t like the wind and cold.

Be consistent

Just like kids, animals need consistency. I have set in my pediatrician’s office many times listening to him talk about the importance of being consistent, especially during the terrible two’s phase. I feel like the terrible two’s comes early and stays late for my kids. Anyway, back to my point.

The best way to train anything is to be consistent. Try to feed them the same time every day. Create a routine in how you feed them. If you are one of those who do intensive grazing, move them the same way each time. If you usually move them in the morning stick with that every time.

If you are using the treats to train them to a certain behavior pattern, make sure that is consistent as well. Go out throughout the day and offer them treats. At first some might be resistant. As you are patient and keep the treats coming, more than just the boss of the herd will come to you.

Before too long when your animals see you coming to the field they will start to meet you at the gate. You don’t have to feed them a lot of treats, just a little something each time they see will do the trick.

Now to be fair, our cows did follow us around pretty well before we ever introduced the treats. We trained them with a little grain in a bucket. I think this is a result of their breed. Read more about why we chose Lowline Angus. They are very docile and great cows. But they do really enjoy their treat time.

I hope you found this post helpful! Thanks so much for reading!