A great comment and question


Joel Brown commented:

Curt, can you visit some about stress on cattle; caused by our “handling pressure”, we raise 3 thousand replacement heifers and get the cattle prepared to handle, like a horse, gets their thinking side in a natural place without pressure, sure seems to affect their response over time to being content and healthy. Seems to prepare is as important as executing the right move, more feeling the cow then just learning a dance move, hope that makes sense, thank you for your dedication, I’ve enjoyed your and Ron Gills work, have a blessed week, thank you

I received this comment on handling pressure. This is the big question we should be asking as an industry.

While at a large feedyard lately were were visiting about death loss. It was a 100 thousand plus capacity, with 2 1/2 turns a year. With some quick figuring in our heads they had over a 4 million dollar death loss cost. I have no numbers, but performance loss due to sickness or cattle that were not taking the stress of the feedyard environment may well be just as much or more.

I feel this is something we need to focus on, but who will take a hold of it? Does it start with fetal programming from nutrition and environment, stress at birth that hampers immune system development, or lack of vaccine efficacy?

What would it be worth to train these calves to take pressure and work properly when handled as Joel suggested. Who’s going to pay for it if we don’t recognize the value?

I feel it has to start with the cow/calf producer. This is where it all begins, and no matter what direction they go, replacement heifers or finished cattle, this is the most important training for the solid foundation they need. If they have a good foundation, they can always be brought back to it.

We need to always work with these calves so they learn to think their way out of pressure. I does not matter how you teach it really(who’s method), just that these calves learn to think rather than react.

If you go to a finishing yard, and see the incoming cattle, and they have been prepared to be processed, know what a feed bunk is and have the confidence and try to get to the bunk and waterer, those cattle settle in immediately and go on the gain.

To my way of thinking these are professionals cattle. The other side of the coin is cattle that over react to all the pressure. These cattle have been prepared also, but in the opposite way. As soon as they have any contact that involves things unfamiliar to them they over react.

By the time the cattle are finished and you pull them to count or go to load they work pretty good. But remember the millions of dollars lost on the 225 thousand head of cattle we talked about before. I think training cattle for the feedyard is worth it.

We could go through the same thoughts with replacement heifers, or dairy heifers, or probably rabbits.

So Joel, great point. It is so important to prepare ourselves, our children, and the animals in our care, to take the pressures this old world gives us. The challenge is learning how to go about it.

Some folks learn it, some don’t. The information is out there, it’s up to you to find it and implement it.

If I was a feedlot manager, and I had lots of cattle, I would put together a health care and sickness prevention team to get these cattle where they need to be. If they could cut death loss and sickness by 1/8th, (I know you could achieve much more)you could offer a pretty good salary.

It’s up to you as a producer, are you a professional? Don’t make excuses, blame someone else, or not put out the effort. That’s not the way to live and work. Stockmanship is a lifestyle, just a being a professional is.

Thank you , Joel for getting me to thinking.