The bull had scurs, stubby horns which Hal held onto as the yearling Holstein bull tried to push Hal into the soft spring mud. Hal felt ribs breaking every time the bull pushed into him, but he figured if he let go, and the bull was able to get a head of steam, it would be all over.
Hal’s bull started out life like most dairy calves. Separated from his mom shortly after birth and placed in a calf hut with a circle of wire panel in front of the hut. The bull spent its first months socializing only with its human caretaker, who fed it milk replacer.
Hal’s bull was further socialized with humans because he was chosen to be a show calf by a local 4-H member. The bull was taught to lead with a halter, washed and combed, fed and watered. The bull grew to enjoy the attention from humans, and would even approach them to get his head scratched.
When the bull lifted his head, Hal called for Babe, the Blue Heeler dog he had received as a puppy in exchange for filling his neighbor’s silo.
Babe didn’t slow as she approached Hal, and attacked the bull’s heels with fury. Hal let go as the bull bounded over him. Babe didn’t stop to check on Hal, but kept the bull on the run, through the fence, and into the next pasture.
Just about every living dairy farmer has a story about a close call with a bull. Most farm animals are dangerous, but dairy bulls are killers, and they can flip into killer mode in a moment.