Cattle Thoughts, Moose Jaw


I had a couple of experiences last week that got me to thinking about good things to discuss.

Dale Sigurdson from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan contacted me a while back to see if I could come out while in the area to help with some problems.

He had been to a demo I did a while ago using a “Bud Box” and then had seen a talk by my friend and Mentor Dr. Tom Noffsinger and decided to put in a Bud Box to work his cows to the chute.

I was with Zoetis on this trip, and Clarence Manegre and I had supper with the vet that pregnancy tested for Dale and his wife and he said it didn’t go so well.

Dale picked me up at my motel on a very cold morning and we drove for a half hour or so to get to his place. The drive gave us time to learn about his goals, philosophy, and frustrations with some handling issues.

He told me before they had a small tub system they used before the new system was put in. They were real exited to use the new system, but it took them a long time to preg check because the cows wouldn’t load.  Six hours instead of four if my memory serves me correctly.

Some neighbors came, and over coffee and some real good homemade pastries we had a nice visit. Clarence gave some real good honest advice about the vaccines they were using. I’m always amazed at how much can be learned from the different professionals I get to learn from.

On a humorous note, I had been visiting with someone a few days before about the great meal being the thing I remembered at the demo Dale was at. A young man was at our kitchen table discussion that had attended the demo and someone asked him what he remembered about it and he very seriously said “the food”. I got a big kick out of that.

Well, we all went out to the corrals and they had the cows in. I worked them back and forth through the pens and explained some things I thought were important. I’ll cut to the chase with out all the details so we can get to the discussion that matters.

The cows really responded very well to pressure in the pens, would walk by nicely on either side, and were not wild, but not dull either.

When I sorted some off and drove them up the alley to the holding pen, they moved fairly well. When I took them from the holding pen to the bud box I only took three or four to learn how much pressure to use. I really had a hard time putting enough pressure to get them to go.

They really anticipated going up to the box and were very different to handle now. It was a wide alley and I really had to be ahead of their mind to keep them from turning back. What I mean is my focus had to be up at the ears of the cows. If I was looking at the tail, they would have started to turn around and I would have been late to change their minds, and it would have taken way more pressure, maybe more than I had without the use of an aid (flag, rattle paddle, or electric prod), or the need for more bodies. I also had to have the appropriate energy behind them. I used a ch ch ch noise to help keep movement forward as my physical energy was not enough.

When they got over the threshold of the entrance gate, then they headed to the back of the box to escape,(they new I was going to try to put them up the lead up) so I had to hurry and shut the gate and because the box was real deep I had to hurry and get way down the box to get them out of the corner, and that made it to where I had to really be positioned properly to overcome their desire not to go to the chute, and apply enough forward pressure to get them to go into the pressure of the lead up.

I was able to get them through and after a few drafts was getting along ok. It wasn’t working the way a bud box is supposed to, but it was going and the cows were going straight up and out without stopping in chute. Good training for the cows.

One cow refused. She wouldn’t go. She would get to the entrance of the lead alley to the chute and turn back, then she wouldn’t come out of corner, then she would try to kick me, and was starting to get on the fight. There was a man gate to exit and walk along lead up, so I open it and got her to go out it, and then worked here up and down it and in and out of box a few times. I happened to find a sort stick by the chute (bad luck for the cow) and grabbed it on my way by.

After some applying proper pressure, and release of pressure when her mind changed, she finally decided to go up into the lead up and through the chute.

Everyone was about froze out by this time. I wasn’t because I was working pretty hard to produce pressure on the cow. We went to the house to a great noon meal and more discussion.

Well, this is a real life story about two real good people that really care about how they do things, try to learn to do them right, and how frustrating it can be when it doesn’t work out as they hoped. They will get it figured out, and be better stockman because of it.

When I was doing so many colt starting demos in the past, I always looked at them as a way to demonstrate the right kind of pressure and the focus was more on horsemanship, than with starting the colt as a good demonstration of change with proper use of pressure. It wasn’t about the round pen,halter, saddle,flag, or rope. If you focus on those things you miss the things that matter the most. All those things can make it easier to apply proper pressure, but until you understand the right amounts and the time to apply it, you are just as apt to cause more problems than benefits with any aid.

Same goes with cattle. This is why I am think we all are focusing on the wrong things when we start talking about facilities. A good system will help a good stockman apply the proper pressure. The more a facility keeps you from being able to apply pressure where and when it is needed, the harder is is to work properly. Some of these systems never even consider proper stockmanship, but to force animals to go. The more physical force these systems will creat the more they cost, and potentially are able to create more stress on animals if over forced.


I think is a great lead up to some discussion on some stockmanship ideas. Beings it’s going to get pretty cold in Ryegate, Montana the next couple days I’ll take a little time to write and share some ideas.

5 thoughts on “Cattle Thoughts, Moose Jaw

  1. Pat Mallon

    Love that. Too often people get home and it doesn’t work and they get frustrated. So many great principles you share. I Love the smaller drafts and watching the ears when things aren’t going right.

  2. Shane Morrissey

    I find explaining how to project physical energy difficult. Working dull or desensitised cattle in a bud box is a challenge I find rewarding and is a great way to demonstrate proper pressure and release of pressure.

  3. Christine Kaplan

    Hi Curt,
    Do you think there might have been something the cows saw that caused them to dread the lead up ally and refuse to go ?

  4. Bob Studebaker

    Do you think the box was too deep and wide? You never really said what you think the trouble was. P.S. I got your email Curt, and I will get them to Montana. We had some real bad luck in the family a couple of weeks ago and it has really thrown me behind. Please bear with me.

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