|"Training and Working with Oxen"
Oxen Questions Most Asked
- What is an ox?
- Oxen are steers of any breed of cattle, that are at least four years old, and taught to work. Steers, in this catagory, that are younger than four years old, are called "Working Steers".
- What is a steer?
- A steer is a castrated bull.
- How are oxen different than cattle?
- There is no difference. Oxen are just cattle that have been taught to work.
- Why are oxen so big?
- Usually steers are butchered before they reach their full size. Because oxen are kept alive, they have the chance to grow bigger. A full grown ox is usually bigger than the bull of the same breed.
- Why do oxen have such big horns?
- When people choose an animal for an ox, they choose one with horns. The horns keep the yoke on their heads when they back up. Oxen's horns grow as their bodies grow, and so they have big horns, although not all breeds have the same size of horns.
- Can a heifer or cow be used for an oxen?
- Yes. Many pioneers used their milk cows for pulling their equipment, and so they were the pioneer's source of power, milk, calves, and if times got bad, meat.
- Can an animal from any breed of cattle learn to be an ox?
- Yes. But some take more time than others because of temperment, and past experiences.
- Can you yoke a trained ox with an untrained ox, or a large ox with a small ox?
- Of course it will be more difficult, but it is possible to yoke a trained and an untrained ox together,
with the hopeful result that the untrained ox will learn from the trained animal.
But, because it is too hard to fit equipment, and the animals are too different in strength, it does not work very well to yoke a large and a small animal together.
- Can two yoked oxen pull more than double the weight of that which two single oxen could pull combined?
- Yes, two oxen yoked together can pull more than double the combined weight two single oxen could pull, if the conditions, training,
and capability of the teamster are optimum.
- How do I decide which animals to pick?
- Different people have different ideas as to which breed, and which characteristics, make a good ox. For more information on choosing your animals, click on:Choosing Your Animals and Ox Health.
- Is it hard to train oxen?
- No. But it does take commitment to work regularly, as well as, patience and consistency in what you ask, and proving yourself a good leader by making sure your animals needs are met. For more information on how to train your calves, click on:Training.
- How do I get started?
- Start with a very young calf,and with just his halter on, use a small goad to lightly tap him on the head to teach him to Whoa or stop, and on rump to teach him to Giddup or move forward.
- How do I hook my animals up to equipment?
- You can use a neck yoke, which is a simple wood beam, carved to fit the oxen's necks,
and has a ring in the center to attach equipment to. Or you can use a head yoke with is a beam
carved to fit snuggly against the oxens' horns and held there with leather straps. Or you can
use a collar and harness, which is a little more complicated to get to fit right, and to hook
up, but still workable. For more information on these methods, click on:
Neck Yokes, Head Yokes
or Harness and Collars.
- Are there people in western Canada who have oxen?
- Yes. We have had responses from ox enthusiasts living in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Read some of their stories by clicking on: Ox Stories. Or click onTalking Oxen to view a list of other ox enthusiasts who would welcome your questions.
Click on: Front Porch to visit Rural Heritage's great draft animal enthusiast's forum, where you can type in questions, and other readers can answer them.
For names of printed and visual information available on the market, go to our resource page at: Resources Available
Or contact us with your question, by clicking on:
Prairie Ox Drovers' Home Page