why do they put rings in bulls noses

Man learned a basic fact about animals early on: If you control the head, the body will follow. The ancient Egyptians applied this principle effectively through devices placed in the muzzles of their sacrificial beasts. Their domestic animals learned, if it hurts when you do that, don't do that. The practice of placing a ring through the nasal septum of a bull may have traveled from the East to Europe and England via the Crusaders, as it is depicted in a pub game played in вYe Olde Trip to Jerusalem," an ancient tavern reputed to be the oldest in that country. The bull nose ring certainly came to the New World with the bulls themselves, because no pre-Columbian indigenous peoples had domestic animals larger than the llama that needed such control.
It is estimated that 42% of all livestock-related human fatalities are a result of bull attacks, and only about one in twenty victims of a bull attack survives. Dairy breed bulls are particularly dangerous and unpredictable; the hazards of bull handling are a significant cause of injury and death for dairy farmers in some parts of the United States.


Most cattle breeders recognize the importance of looking after expensive bulls that are expected to improve herds and profits. Nonetheless, the dangers of bull handling, particularly from dairy bulls in close quarters, are regularly proven by the obituaries. Good bull management and safety practices require caution in handling beef and dairy bulls, and use of the nose ring and chain is a recommended precaution for modern farmers. However, in many regions, particularly in the beef industry, bulls do not have nose rings unless they are to be exhibited and they are generally driven about as other cattle would be. Cows with young calves can be particularly dangerous if protecting their young, and cattle in general, including calves, steers and bullocks, do cause many serious human injuries and deaths.


Generally the use of both a ring and a halter, and management of the bull by two people, is the preferred method today for controlling the bull. Typically, a bull was led by a wooden staff with a steel end that snapped into the ring. A long rigid steel or wooden bull staff locked into the ring could also be used to push a bull out of a pen without requiring the handler to enter the pen for cleaning or feeding. many handlers prefer to avoid their use nowadays. One current veterinary text still recommends the use of a staff in addition to the halter: Many handlers rely on a nose ring to control a bull. But a ring in his nose is no good unless you have a bull staff and use it. A bull staff is a pole with a snap in the end that clips to the bull ring. Leading a bull with a staff gives you a lot more handling power as the bull can't get any closer to you than the length of the staff allows. Leading him only by a chain in the ring lets him run over you at will.


Most dairy or beef farms traditionally had at least one, if not several, bulls for breeding purposes. The handling of an aggressive, powerful animal was a practical issue with life-threatening consequences for the farmer. The need to move the bull in and out of its pen to cover cows exposed the farmer to serious jeopardy of life and limb. Being trampled, jammed against a wall or gored by a bull was one of the most frequent causes of death in the dairy industry prior to 1940. As suggested in one popular farming magazine, "Handle [the bull] with a staff and take no chances. The gentle bull, not the vicious one, most often kills or maims his keeper. " When allowed outside its pen, the bull typically was kept in a halter connected by a strap snapped into the ring in his nose for ease of control. In the bull pen, the use of a ring connected by a cable to a fixed point was recommended as a means of controlling and securing the bull while allowing a degree of movement by the subject bull.


If the pen was strong enough, the bull could be turned loose, and if needed, placed in a stanchion. Farmers who lacked an assistant, or a bull staff, had no choice but to adopt other means. Some farmers elected to move their bulls by tying a rope to the ring and tying the other end of the rope to a farm, providing both motive power and a degree of protection from the angry bull. The efficacy of this technique is doubtful, and may depend on the size of the tractor and of the bull; one authority has "seen a bull lift the front end of a tractor like a toy". Others used dogs and horses. Not all farmers could afford specially designed and manufactured bull handling products, which were not readily available until the 1980s. The experimental improvisation of techniques for bull handling, as in many aspects of, was a common practice.

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