How to get started with oxen

I have been asked to cover the training process more but, after giving it some thought, I have decided there is no place to start but at the beginning.  Before you ever buy an animal do your homework!  You need to prepare and learn as much as you can before the big event.  Cattle are creatures of habit and consistency is one of the keys to training them.  If you have an idea of what to expect and you have a plan as to how you are going to handle them, yoke them, and respond to situations ahead of time you can be much more consistent and proactive.  Hopefully this site will grow to become a great resource but there are many good resources out there.

Some of the best include:

The Draft Animal Power forum: This is an active forum with an international following.  It has a dedicated “oxen” sub forum and is a great place to ask questions online.

Rural Heritage Front Porch:  This is another forum frequented by teamsters.

Midwest Ox Drovers Association: The association has a gathering each year hosted by Tillers International.  This gathering is a great place to meet face to face with a number of teamsters.  You can see several teams of oxen and ask all the questions you want!

Tillers International: Besides being a wonderful host to the MODA gathering each year, Tillers offers several ox related classes.  They have a great facility, staff and other resources like the museum and library.

There are a number of books related to oxen but the two listed below are the best on the training and use of oxen.  They should be considered required reading before purchasing an animal or taking a class.  Both authors are accomplished teamsters with an immense amount of experience.

Oxen: A Teamsters Guide by Drew Conroy:

The Pride and Joy of Working Cattle by Ray Ludwig:

Next time I will cover how to select your animals.