Staytuff Fence

Staytuff Fence

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I have spent the last few days at home really having fun. I learned how to build fence.
I’ve been building fence all my life, felt like I was pretty competent at it. Like many things, fence building has evolved with technology and people wanting to improve.  I had and have lots to learn.

Several years ago I was doing a colt starting demo in North Carolina, and and Lewis Sapp was in attendance. He was a Gallagher rep, and we hit it off and He and I did some work together and he taught me much about power fence. I have used it for years and really believe in its benefits.

The first place I was around power fence was the “Houlihan Ranch” and Buck sold me on it. He said you could put a stud on one side of the fence and a mare in heat on the other side of the fence and not have problems. That was a pretty good picture to understand how good it was. I put it up on a place we had in Helena, MT and it was great but I was always worried about the power being off or a short, and it required a lot of maintenance to keep it working, and not everyone wanted to do that when I was on the road.

I got interested in Staytuff fence after Lewis told me about its benefits. It makes a lot of sense for me to have a real effective, low maintenance perimeter fence that is safe and will last a long time. The deal is it is a special fixed knot on hi tensile wire that will stretch if pressured and come back to its normal shape when the pressure comes off.
I’ve been putting it up on the perimeter of our little place. It is not easy to put up. It takes a lot of skill to get it up right and you really need good braces because of the amount of pull to get it up right. This is where Lewis really taught me, and it is funny to watch a guy that is so good, get frustrated at people that are slow and having a hard time figuring it out. When you have passion and do something for a long time it is hard to understand how people don’t get it. I see the same thing with horse and livestock handlers.

The first place I put it was along the highway. When the fence was built it wasn’t real good and it had not had much maintenance, and I was always worried about something getting out on the highway and getting hit. As soon as we got the Staytuff fence up I could sleep better and quit worrying about not being a responsible stockman and landowner.

I still use single strand power fence for my grazing management on our little place. As I get time I will keep adding to my fencing ability and my perimeter fence. I am also going to use it for some pens.

I’m not the handiest guy with a tool, but I can get by with a chainsaw and a hammer. All the cool stuff I am learning to use building this fence, and the challenge of doing it right makes this a nice experience, and I think building fence is real rewarding because it goes up pretty quick and you can step back and see what you have done, and everyone else that sees it for the next thirty or forty years can see how much pride you had in your work.

Lewis Sapp has a lot of Pride.

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Working the working facility debate

ArrowQuip, a livestock equipment manufacturer asked if I would write something for their website. I thought I would share it here. I’m not sure they are going to use it, but it’s important to understand how much improvements have been made in animal handling by manufacturers creating working systems. All systems are not created equal, and what works for you may not work for someone else. So here are some thoughts from my perspective of what to know before you make decisions on what to use.

This is a system that I have been working on for my situation.  I like having an alley around a round pen.  It’s a great place to lope a colt the first time, exercise bulls, and train and work animals effectively, and I and Bob Studabaker are figuring out some remote gate ideas to where I can work and sort animals out of round pen and sort by myself.  For me this is a great system for all the things I need.

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Working facilities

There is much debate lately on different systems to get cattle into a chute or crush, or loaded on a vehicle for transport. There are lots of cattle loaded in the world everyday, so this is a very important subject.

I feel if you break things down into the component parts it gets much easier to make decisions on the whole.

The most important thing to remember is that the better you prepare your livestock to work, the better any system will work. Learn how to teach your animals to work properly, take the time to get them ready to work, and allow the time to work safely and effectively.

From what I can see there are four pieces to this puzzle.

Safety of humans and animals
Animal welfare
Efficiency of system
Cost
Safety

Bull riding is most likely the most dangerous activity when dealing with bovine animals. They say if you are making a living riding bulls, it’s not if your going to get hurt but how bad. This is true because of the close contact with very active and powerful animals.

Milking cows is most likely to be one of the least dangerous activities when dealing with bovine animals. Once patterned and trained to the milking routine dairy cows are safe to work around. If there is an injury it is usually a mistake made by the handler of having a body part in the wrong place at the wrong time.

These two extremes show us the better we understand pressuring animals, and the better the facilities we use for putting this pressure on, and the better our cattle understand how to work, the safer and more efficient it is.

I’ve worked lots of bucking bulls and it is much safer to not have to be in a small area with them. I have also worked with lots of dairy cows and you many times must be in with them to get them to move where they need to be pressured.

We need a facility that works for the specific animal we are working with. In some situations we will be working with all different types of animals, such as an auction facility or feedlot. We need to be able to put the proper pressure on to get the animal to work and stay safe, as well as keep the animals safe from injury and achieve the highest beef quality.

Animal Welfare

This has always been an important part of the livestock industry. Good stockman have always been aware of animal welfare. They have known that animals that are provided proper nutrition, a healthy environment, and as little fear as possible, will preform as well as genetically capable. This creates high quality of life for the animal as well as high profit potential. The highest fear point is created from excessive pressure that causes fear, and can turn to anger. This is why training animals to accept and work from proper pressure, and creating facilities that animals can flow easily from pressure is so important for animal welfare.

Efficiency Of System

Domesticated livestock need to be moved from point A to point B. If point B is a desirable place that the animal wants to go it takes very little pressure to get them to point B. The less desirable point B is the more pressure it takes to put them there. Imagine a working chute or loading chute out in the middle of a 40 acre pasture. It would not be impossible to get them in the chute, but it would take quite a bit of training and time to get them to walk into the chute. It would take a very high level of skill and time to get it done. The more animals you needed to work the more challenging success would be. The reason it would be so difficult is that we would have to create more pressure out in the forty acres than there is in the confinement of the chute. It is easy for the animal to escape our pressure in the 40 acres. If we put a 40 foot circular pen behind the chute, and put the animal in the round pen it would be easier to apply the pressure without the animal escaping us and it would look for relief of our pressure through the chute. We are able to put more forward pressure on the animal than the chute would be putting back. This would still require high skill and the animal could go through quite a lot of stress before it decided to go in the chute.

In both of these situations we need to pressure the animal from quite far behind the balance point to get the animal to go forward. The farther back you get to move an animal, the less you control the direction the animal goes. If we set up an alley and some sort of a pen that we can create and control the movement and direction of travel of the animals, we can use our pressure effectively to get the animal to go in the chute very easily. The better the system allows you to create movement and direction simultaneously the safer and more effective it becomes. It is more effective if you can create proper pressure and position for the type of animal you are working.

Cost

If you are in the livestock business for profit, return on investment and cash flow are very important. If it is a hobby, entertainment cost is the important thing.

In a for profit business, we must cost our facilities for number of animals worked. Time, safety, beef quality and life of use of facilities is important. The fewer animals worked it would seem the less facilities needed. This is important on the cash flow side, but not so on return on investment. How much is human safety worth? Bruising and injury in a poorly designed facility will injure animals no matter if you are working large numbers or few.

Good quality working facilities hold or increase in value, and many times they have a higher dollar value when sold than when purchased.

Working systems need to work. Not all systems work the same. Make sure you are getting equipment that you look forward to using and are safe doing it.

MOM

I wrote this a few years ago, and feel it worth sharing again.

As I look back and reflect on my life, and the things my Mother did for me, especially up to about the 15 year mark, and then it became a different kind of support and help, but she was always there.  It is so enjoyable for me to see all the influence my Mother had on me, and other people I know, and to see the influence they had on them.  IMG_1488

Roberta Frank (aka Bobby Wagner, aka “Mom)

YouTube clip of Mom eating sushi for first time.

 

 

Mothers Are Stockmanship and Stewardship
Mothers and wives are the real foundation of most family livestock operations. They are instrumental in keeping things organized, from book work to knowing what cow belonged to what calf, and could most likely point out the cow’s mother. Cooking for a crew is no problem. Serving as a counselor, bookkeeper, bill payer, nurse for man, vet for beast, driving truck, tractor, or riding a horse are just part of the deal.

I feel most women have more compassion for animals, and seem to get along better calving and lambing when it comes to mothering something up, grafting and suckling calves and lambs.

They probably are not willing to pressure animals as much as some of us men folk (I am not aware of any negative undercover video involving females). Most try to figure out a better way to work with animals, and very seldom lose their cool when working with them.

My mother Bobby Wegner kept our outfit together. Three good meals a day for family and crew. She always had a huge garden, canned vegetables (I love her pickled beets.), and got a big supply of groceries every fall. She was very good with horses, would wrap meat all day at the slaughter house, and still manage to do all her other duties at home.

She could drive truck, bale hay, cuss with the best of them when she was mad, get over her mad just as quick as she could get mad, and would take in any stray, animal or human.

She and My Stepfather Ralph Wegner, worked hard, played hard, went broke in the early 80’s, made it all back in the 90’s, and had a great time doing it.

I think my mother is the reason for my passion for animals. She had me horseback before I was born. Shortly after I was born she kept me riding horses, taking my sister and I to ride in parades, drill teams and rodeos. I always had chores to do, and she was real strict about doing them the right way at the right time.

I have many things to thank my Mother for – strong work ethic, compassion for animals, taking care of the land, taking me to bible school, and all the great fun things I got to do growing up on our place in the Helena valley of Montana.

The greatest gift my Mother has is her ability to make people feel good. She never met a stranger, always treated everyone the same when they came to our place, from sheep herders to bankers to movie stars.

I sure hope some of it rubbed off on me.

Take some time to think about what your Mother has really done for you, and take even more time to figure out what you can do for her. I’m not sure flowers will be enough.

~ Curt Pate

Comes A Horseman

I’ve been watching this fella for a long time. He was horseback when he was four days old. I know because I was holding him. His first pony double barreled him in the chest, run him under trees and bucked him off. When he got it figured out, Rio and rial were a team and that pony started a young cowboy on the journey. I had a pony named PeeWee that did the same thing.

When I was doing horse clinics to make a living I spent a lot of time in the Midwest and started lots of Colts and did horsemanship clinics at Lee and Diane Sackett’s. I have lots of memories in that place. Rial was about 10 years old when we first started going there, and went there all the time he was growing up. I think he started his first colt there, and I’m sure a few other things happened that I don’t know about.

This past week He and his Mother did a clinic there together. I watched some of the video and it is great to see his approach at presenting to the horse and people. All the versatility he has learned in horsemanship from riding broncs to jumping fences to handling livestock have shaped what I think is a horseman that has much to offer horses and humans.

Watch Utube video.

He has always stepped up and took the bad ones when we would contract to start colts. I’ve watched him get really good at riding broncs. He can really rope. I have  also watched him cry like a baby when we had to put Rio, his pony down. He has a lot of feel.

It is so nice to see someone just get along and get things done without a lot of hype. I feel that horsemanship has gotten real extreme, and all about ego based training, so I am real proud that Rial has kept that out of his program. He gets results when it doesn’t look like he is doing much. He is thinking way ahead instead of right now results and I think that is very important in horsemanship.

The best thing is is that he thinks for himself. He has always been a little different in his way of thinking and doing things. It’s been fun to watch, is nice to see right now, and it looks like the future is helping animals and people. Stay tuned.

Stress -good or bad?

 

This is sure good to watch.  This is why doing something good in a stressful situation is as positive for the person helping someone as the person receivin.  This is why people that do good don’t think it’s that big of a deal.

if stress is not bad if the attitude is right, do animals work the same way?

Facebook?

 

Well I thought I was done writing for a bit, but a little surprise happened that I need to address.

I don’t do Facebook. I have a Facebook page but have no idea how to get on it. It is just not something I want to spend my time on. That doesn’t mean I think it is bad, I’m just not interested in it.

We were doing a demo at NCBA trade show and I was giving Tammy a bad time for being on Facebook instead of practicing her roping. What I didn’t know is Western Horseman was streaming live on Facebook, so I was cussing Facebook while on Facebook. Humorous.

I enjoy flying. I fly United airlines and have lots of miles accumulated every year so I have platinum status. This saves money because I get to check overweight bags so I can pack my saddle and other bags for no charge. I get good seat choices and I would
not fly if I had to set in a little seat. I just don’t fit. Some flights I get a upgrade to first class. It’s nice and I like it, but I sure wouldn’t pay for it. As long as I have plenty of room for my knees I can get by on any flight. First class is a little embarrassing sometimes when people look at you like some kind of snob as they walk by to the cheap seats.

Once in a while I see someone that would really benefit from a seat in first class. Giving up a seat that you didn’t pay for to help someone that would get more benefit than you is a no brainer. It’s the right thing to do. On every flight I’m sure someone would benefit more than me so I am a little embarrassed I haven’t done it more.

There is a whole bunch of hoopla on Facebook being made about something that happened on a flight from Denver to San Antonio. Before boarding I saw a big man with a cane that was a little bothered. He had a t-shirt on that had a 25 year reunion of desert storm on it. I was amazed that it was that long ago. I enjoy watching the boarding process and how people act and react to the pressure of flying. It is interesting to compare loading people on an airplane to loading livestock. It is much the same. The skills of the people handlers and loading facilities make a lot of difference in the flow of loading of the plane and how content the sheep, I mean people are on the liner, I mean plane.

If they load the folks that need a little extra time far enough in advance and let them get settled and seated, the rest of the loading goes real smooth. I don’t think the handlers always understand this and they start the next group to soon and this causes problems that I can see, because I’m right in the middle of it, but the person doing the loading is where they can’t see it so they just keep sending people up the chute and it creates problems that they don’t even know is happening. Might be a lesson here for loading livestock.

When I got to the first class section I could see this fellow was having trouble. He had a seat right where everyone was trying to get by. I talked him into taking my seat and I would take his. He was worried about leg room, as he had a bad leg. People were putting to much pressure on him trying to get by and I could take the pressure off by giving him my seat. I didn’t do it because he was a veteran, but because he was a human being that I could help, as well as all the other human beings on the flight.

I sat in the seat he was trying to sit in and a man told me I was in his seat. I said it wasn’t my seat but I had traded my seat to the veteran fellow. He said he was a veteran so why didn’t I give him my first class seat. I moved over and let him have his seat. It turned out better than I thought, because the man I traded would have been real uncomfortable in the seat I had and I was just fine.

I got the most benefit out of the deal. I got the satisfaction of helping someone that needed some help. The fellow sitting beside me got his seat and didn’t have to ask the other fellow to move. The nice things the man said about me on Facebook (Tammy had to show me)was an extra bonus for me and him, and it opened up the opportunity for this discussion. Another great memory in my life. It all goes back to what Tom Dorrance said. Negatives never make positives. Positives make positives.

It all about pressure. How we take it and how we apply it.

I appreciate all the kind words everyone is saying, but it really was not that big of a deal. After we got off the plane we visited a little, he was a very nice man, and he is the real hero for what he did after the deal by showing his appreciation. On the flight back, the other veteran was on again and I shook his hand and asked him how his visit was. He was real nice, and he didn’t even know what had taken place. I was upgraded again, and sat in first class. I bet there was someone on the plane that could have used my seat but I didn’t give it up, so I’m not that special.

So again thank you for all the kind words. What ever the situation we can always do better for the living things that surround us. That should be the norm, not the exception.

That brings us back to Facebook. I think it’s a great thing if it creates positives in life. Just don’t let it create negatives, or cause you to not get and give the positives in your real world.

Pasture to Plate-California Style

 

I just finished my big run in diversity in our industry. The pastures of Hawaii, the feedlots in Texas, and now California to present stockmanship and stewardship concepts to the meat of our industry.

California Beef Council hosts “pasture to plate” tour every year, and I have been part of the program for the last three. It is made up of executive chefs, meat company’s and restaurant chains from fast food to high end steak houses.

They start on Sunday evening at a ranch, then go on to a dairy, calf ranch, auction market, feedlot and I believe finish up at a large beef packer. They spend lots of money on this event, and the folks that attend will hopefully snowball what they learn to colleagues and consumers of beef. From what I can see it is a very important program for our industry, and we should be doing more of this type of thing all over the country. I don’t know if anyone else would put the effort in that it takes that Christy Van Egmond and the rest of the crew from the California Beef council does.

I’ll share some things I heard and saw from the people attending and some personal things.

Denver airport is the hub I fly through. There used to always be a line at McDonalds. They put a Chic-Filet in and since I don’t see a line at McDonalds, but always a big line at the chicken place. They are going to open a gourmet burger joint up soon, and it will be interesting to see what happens there. Just an observation.

I flew to Sacramento and Bill Dale and I drove down to Sanger, California and the McDonald Ranch. It is the perfect setting to host the program. A well kept old time Ranch, that has a pasture rotation with cows and calves and a nice set of corrals and working facility.

Steve McDonald gets the bus load as they arrive and they walk to the river and talk conservation and management. They make their way to the pens and he explains the grazing production and cow calf production. Steve has a great way of presenting our world to these folks, and his wife and daughter and son-in-law and three grandchildren are perfect for showing what a family Ranch is all about. Steve then hands it off to me. I give my thoughts on the importance of grazing animals to our environment and talk about how California stockman has been so important for so long. I then do a little horsemanship and cattlehandling demo, and we put some cattle through the chute and Steve talks about BQA and the program they have with Harris Ranch beef. The group asked lots of good questions and were real positive about what we were doing.

Steve then takes them on and they look at the bulls and talk genetics and more Ranch management. He should be given an award for the great job he does of painting a true picture of cow – calf production in USA. They end up in the most beautiful back yard in the world for a very traditional California tri-tip based meal and California wine. This is when I get to sit and listen to these folks and their thoughts on the beef industry. It is fascinating to hear what they think and to learn what they deal with on the beef side of the cattle industry.

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I will say it is the favorite program I do every year, and I feel the most valuable for the promotion of the production side of our industry, truly from pasture to plate.

I would like to share some thoughts on my observations and learnings of the last few weeks.

ITS ALL ABOUT ATTITUDE

I saw people that were very unsettled in paradise, content in Texas’s most harsh environment, and living what looks to be the perfect life in California. It does not matter where you live or what you do, it’s your choice on your attitude that determines your quality of life.

Paul Miller is a fellow cattle handling fanatic friend of mine. He happened to be in California and came to the program. We were discussing success in stockmanship and he felt the most important component was attitude. I saw this in Hawaii. The calves were completely different in a year. The facilities were the same, the genetics were the same, the management and the crew were almost the same, the nutrition was the same, and I could not see a big change in the way they handled the cattle. The change in mindset and small changes in pressure was the change I could see. A change in attitude. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT.

Ruby is the horse I have ridden for the last three years at the Pasture to plate. I never got along to good with her. She was real bothered when I was sitting on her trying to talk to the audience and I had a hard time putting her where I needed her working the cattle. I would get off her as quick as possible and work afoot.

This year it was different. She was the perfect horse. I didn’t want to get off her, and at dinner they were talking about how amazing the communication was between her and me. Bill Dale even commented on how it was a different horse. Same horse, I think I am different. After watching the new Ray Hunt video and read Adventures in Kinship with all Life, I am peeling the banana on the animals I am pressuring and it is making a big difference. (You will have to read the book to understand that one)I thought a lot about the Mexican steer I didn’t get worked very good and that was the problem, I didn’t have the right attitude and didn’t “connect” with him. I had the same physical skills with Ruby, but my ATTITUDE was different, and I really think that is what made the change.

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If I get distracted and don’t focus on the animals I’m working with, I don’t get the same success and satisfaction as when I’m in the zone. I really think this is important with people and animals.

We can’t always control the situation we are in. We can control our attitude towards the situation. This is how you control the good and bad pressure in your life. ATTITUDE!

DISCONNECT

In the last month I have seen how disconnected our industry is. The cow/calf and stocker sector doesn’t understand the feedlot and what they need. I feel real fortunate to be getting knowledge in all parts of the livestock industry. Grainfed, grassfed, dairy, grazing , farming, slaughter, Beef quality, natural, organic, implants, vaccines, antibiotics, profit, are really all parts of this business that we are very opinionated about, but it is really all about creating what the folks attending the pasture to plate program are selling. Beef that the consumer wants.

The discussion at our table was great. The executive chef for a high end steak house chain (Flemmings) led it.The first question asked was if we believed in organic. Most at the table didn’t, but did like local. They didn’t trust organic labels and thought it too expensive. They discussed something that I think the industry should be very concerned about. Steak Quality. Russell said they had been doing satisfaction surveys and they find that people a dissatisfied with the quality of steak in the last year. The chefs are having a hard time preparing steaks properly. They are cooking differently and it is harder to get them properly done. They feel the composition of the beef has changed but don’t know why. I don’t know if this is industry wide or just his supplier, but the others at the table were suppliers and they had the same issues.

If I pay $40.00 for a steak, it better have a wow factor, or I’m headed back to Sizzler.

I don’t feel producers understand the beef side of our business. Maybe we need to know what we are producing after it’s dead. That would change our attitude on how to manage when they are alive.

I can’t imagine how much this program costs. California Beef Council gets it. They are giving these very influential people in the beef part of the industry the equivalent of a $40 steak. This program has a wow factor. These folks are going to share the experience with others and that the snowball effect I mentioned earlier. They are shown how great the production of beef is from “Pasture to Plate” and just like a great steak the will share how good it is. I hope a similar program happens on the east coast. It seems all trends start on the east and west coasts and work to the middle.

The interesting thing is that the Stockmanship and Stewardship program can’t or won’t fund me going there because of rules in beef promotion. Animal handling and care is one of the biggest issues the consumer is interested in. This is another disconnect. Industry leaders don’t understand what is happening out of the office and won’t listen to people that are. Once again it’s attitude.

I can’t control what others do, but I can control what I do. I know producers in states other than California are a part of this. We are all in this together and what happens in California doesn’t stay in California. It not always about money but doing what is right.
This ones on me, for the industry that my family have benefitted from for so long.

It’s been a great month and I hope all this writing hasn’t been too much. I feel real fortunate that I get to see what I see and want to share it with you. I really enjoy it, and might be the luckiest guy in the world.