Shirt Tail Relativity

I watched a presentation a while back that showed Ron Gill loading calves or light yearlings in a truck from a bud box, and it could not have went any smoother. Then they switched the video to a large famous Texas ranch weighing calves and it was terrible to watch. Lots of crew, lots of pressure and total chaos and not much success, (if you want things smooth). They could not get the gate shut before the calves came back and got by them.

One fella I remember real well was on foot, really working hard he was jumping around trying to keep the cattle going to get the gate closed . He had a white shirt on and it was untucked from all the work he was doing.



Now I seen Ron put lots of cattle through a Bud Box. He has seen me put lots of cattle through a Bud Box. Sometimes they go in and out very well. Sometimes it’s not as smooth, but we always seem to get them through pretty well. In a demo, it’s all about how the cattle take and move away from pressure before they get to the box or tub.


I LIKE THIS SYSTEM FOR DEMONSTRATIONS- It would be better if the alley was 12 foot, but place only had 10 foot gates so we had to go with 10 foot alley.

I was doing Demos with another fellow that is a real good stockman. I was doing demos at the same time on pen work so I didn’t get to watch his demo.
He was working in a Danials designed system that had a deep box and an angled gate that goes to a double alley lead up to the chute.

At supper we discussed things and he was real disappointed in how the calves worked. He didn’t like the box was designed and didn’t think it was really a Bud Box but more of a old style wedge or “V” system.

The next day he had a tub system and at supper he told me he had to have someone stop the cattle from going up the chute from the tub, so he could show some things.

The last night he was very frustrated with demos. He was back in a Danials system and the cattle would just not go in for him. He was really down on doing demos.

This man is an excellent stockman. He knows how to work cattle right. We discussed lots of things at supper, and in a later conversation he told me he really didn’t like the way tubs worked, and that Bud Boxes were much better(I’m not quoting here, just telling you the general ideas of the conversation.) I found it interesting that of the three days of working, the tub system worked so well he had to get someone to stop them from going in, and he had trouble with the other system. It’s his opinion and I’m not disagreeing with his opinion, I just saw that what we see in our own situation is not the same as someone else’s way of seeing it. You see(a little humor in case you don’t see what I’m talking about.)

In Canada, there are many Danials systems in use and they are very popular. Everyone wants them and they are seen by the majority of folks as the best system. They have been promoted by some real good stockmanship instructors up there.

I have watched lots of cattle go through them and they flow very nicely. I remember a Mennonite boy on a processing crew really working it very well and the cattle just went through the system great.

Temple Grandin and I were doing a demo up in Great Falls, Montana a year or so ago. When you work with Temple she likes to use a tub(we have done some with a Bud Box, and she was very positive about it).


ALL TUBS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL-Temple sent me this design she likes.

The alley and tub were a real nice system that Temple liked. The pen leading into the alley was real big, and the alley was lined with solid white , and three of us horseback could barely get the very gentle two year old heifers up to it. I had to put lots of pressure on them to get them even to the tub. Once in the tub we could get them to flow pretty easy. There is a fellow that is very against tubs and very for the Bud Box, and he used that opportunity to criticize the tub system. I wish he would of used the opportunity to discuss the real problem in stead of focusing on his agenda to promote the box and use negative info instead of focusing on improving stockmanship as a whole.  We all have our agendas and mine is improving stockmanship.

This fall in Canada, I was with Zoetis at a place and we were processing weaned calves in a tub. I started out taking only the amount that would fit in the lead up to the chute in the tub. It worked great, just as it was supposed to.
Another person that worked it all the time went to put cattle in the tub and filled the tub up and shut the gate at the last notch. She then filled the lead up from the outside and near the entrance to the led up alley, then went to the chute to help and it made the flow at the chute much better. When the lead up was almost empty she walked back, and the fresh weaned calves went right in as they were curious to find a way out. A very safe, effective low stress way of working. I learned.

My whole point to all the examples is that it’s not the system as much as how well the cattle are prepared to work or not work, and the attitude and skill of the people creating the flow through system.

I will say that some systems make it very difficult to get the pressure where you need it when you need it.

I also think it’s important to realize that calves that have never been through a system before, if they are handled right before they get to the system, usually work very well from proper pressure and load nicely, much better than cattle that have been through before.

When I have gone to Ron Gills place and worked older cows they flow through real nice. He has a tub system that is not perfect, but the cows are always looking for a way out of pressure. The difference I see from one or two people working cattle versus a big crew is the same as numbers of animals you take up the alley. With lots of people your pressure is very broad and from to many places and you have to use force that creates panic in the cattle and they want to escape back. When it is one person you must pressure in a way to get the animals to decide to go and this creates a situation that the animal is looking for a way out rather than trying to escape back.

When I load fat cattle in a feedlot, it is usually the hardest to get them into the tub or box. Once you get the gat closed they are looking for a way out. They have learned that the pressure is going to come when they get into the tub or box, but once in they have been patterned to go up the chute alley to get out of the pressure.

So with all those examples I am trying to point out, if your livestock is not working properly even the best designed system is difficult, and if your livestock are working well, you can make even the worst system work.

So next we will start discussing my opinion on how to get cattle to work.

Going back to the first example, if your shirt tail comes untucked, you might be able to do things a little differently!

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.

El Toro Viejo

I mentioned old old bull in my last loop, and have been studying Spanish, so when I heard this song I thought it might be good to share some good music once in a while that fits the situation.  I used to really enjoy sharing music on this deal, so I hope you enjoy it as well.


2018 Here We Go!


Well it’s started. I’m Busy traveling! January was a good month of a little work and quite a bit of time home. Wife Tammy was off traveling and visiting and I had lots of time to work on improving my Spanish, physical health, and spending time in our cabin with just my dog and cats. It was a very nice time to reflect, learn and plan.

Tammy and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary in Phoenix, and I’m sure some folks that watched our demos wondered why she put up with me so long.
I’ll keep working on that one.

So after NCBA convention I got home for a couple of days and headed north to Canada. It was real busy with lots of travel and lots of demos and talks. I was in Regina, Saskatchewan presenting at Saskatchewan Cattle feeders the first two days and then over to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan to present at Ranch Management Forum.

Both really good events and spent time and visited with real good people all involved with production of beef. I heard some real wise and informative speakers as well.

I am working with Zoetis in Canada again this year, and Clarence Menegre is who I worked with. We went out to a cow calf customers that had contacted me earlier about helping with some problems with handling, and we met some neighbors and worked some cows through his bud box system. I will discuss that in another “scoop loop” in more detail. Good people and good meal makes for a much better morning than setting around a motel, even if it was colder than something on a monkey!

Had a late evening program then back to Regina, to fly back to Edmonton next morning, and the did a stockmanship presentation in Thorsby, Alberta. It was a real nice day, more good folks and a real good set up.

After I was finished, the person that set it up, and my ride to and from Airport, Kim Barkwell and I had a real nice conversation about lots of things involving agriculture and family. Stayed in Edmonton Saturday night and then up at 3:30 to get through customs and 6 am flight .

I made a lot of travel mistakes on this trip so far. As I left Ryegate the first morning, I was early and thought I would fill the car up with gas for my wife when she flew in to pick it up. Well as I reached in my pocket for my wallet, it was not there. No credit cards! That changed everything. No way I could make my flight after going home, and no way to travel with no credit cards. Luckily with the number of miles I fly, I can change flights for no cost. So I headed home, regrouped and flew out at 1:30 pm. The problem with that is I got into Edmonton at about 12:30pm and by the time I got through customs I new it would be real late and I had to be at airport for a early flight to Regina. So I booked a room at the hotel that is hooked onto the airport. My $100 dollar room at Holiday Inn just turned into a $250 three hour sleep at the Hyatt. So the credit card mistake, cost me a lot of money and sleep.

The next mistake I made was not knowing my schedule. I figured I would be done Friday afternoon, and I couldn’t find schedule online so I booked a flight back to Edmonton on Friday evening. Well the live portion of my demo was after supper from 7 to 9.

I thought I was going to have to rent a car and drive the 9 hours(all night) to Thorsby and but Kim found a flight on another airline that left the next morning a 6 am. That was great but it cost me an extra $350. I can’t expect the people that hire me to pay for my mistakes so I don’t charge for them. (In my younger days I would have driven to save the money).

The trouble is not only the money, but the lack of sleep and not being able to catch up.

After I was done in Canada, I flew back to Billings on Sunday and then got right back on the same plane, and headed to Reno to go work in Yerington, Nevada for a couple of day helping prepare bulls for the “Bulls for the 21rst Century sale.” (More on that in another throw of the old Scoop Lupe) This flight set up wasn’t a mistake, just bad timing as I had already booked the Canada flight, and had to start over to get good prices for the Reno flight.

The reason I’m telling you all this is I put myself through quite a bit of pressure because of my mistakes. I am a pretty seasoned traveler so I didn’t let it bother me, but I am much more tired and a little easier annoyed. I’m sure my immune system is having to work harder. I’m glad I take vitamins and am in good health or I could end up in the sick pen.

Thats my point of explaining all my mistakes. It creates more stress and cost money to fix them. This is putting human thought on animal care, but it is what happens to our livestock when we don’t prepare them and do things right.

Just like when Daughter Mesa hauls bucking bulls, the seasoned veterans can take it because they are used to the stress of travel, and don’t go off feed and water and learn to relax in different settings, and some even lay down and sleep on the trailer.

The young bulls that don’t have the experience that the more seasoned bulls often go off feed or don’t buck as good because of the stress.

I’m a pretty seasoned old bull. Traveling doesn’t bother me, but the easier and more prepared I am, the less money and sleep I lose (shrink for you livestock people)and the faster I recover when I get home.

This is why it is important to prepare your livestock, and set it up for them to have the best deal possible when you ship or move them. Try to see things from their point of view, and what would change for them and what you could do to prepare them for what they are going to go through. To do this you might have to really understand what they are comfortable with and what makes them uncomfortable.

I really felt good about my presentations, and I was very happy with the way I worked the cattle and horses in my presentations, so my mistakes we not paid for buy the buyers.(the folks I presented to and for)

Next loop I pitch out there at you will be about two real good learning experiences I had, one at a ranch in Moose Jaw working a Bud Box, and the other loading bull in the trailer with my friend Lucy Rechel.



(Cattleman to Cattleman interview)

Just on my way home from NCBA convention in Phoenix. It’s really the end of our year for Stockmanship and Stewardship, as well as the beginning as they came out with the places we will be holding regional events in 2018.

Ron Gill, my friend and co presenter at these events received the BQA educator award for 2017. He sure deserves it and joins lots of other great educators in our industry that have won this. I have spent a lot of time with Ron, and I really can’t imagine how he could devote any more time and energy to educating and improving the beef industry. He lives what he teaches.


( Wife Tammy and Myself were honored to be presenting with Ron Gill, BQA educator of the year.)

We did lots of demos, and the theme was working with young animals. I got to take it a little farther and work with a young cowboy.

Todd MacCartney and Dean Fish do all the set up and organizing for the trade show demos we do. It’s quite an undertaking to get dirt, pens, horses and cattle in and out of downtown Phoenix, plus keep everything on schedule. They really have figured out how to make it all work smooth, have fun doing it, and create a great place for “edutainment” for lots of cattle folks attending. They live what they are helping present.


(The convention trade show demonstrations team with Todd MacCatrney on the left, Dean Fish second from right, and Young Ben far right a horseback)

Every year they want some excitement and entertainment to open the trade show. Many times they have a dog handling demo and folks really enjoy it. This year we decided to do a colt starting demonstration and I was picked to do it. I thought it would be nice to have two colts started at the same time. I also want Todd’s Son Ben to help with the colt starting. I’ve been watching him ride and develop his skills and thought it would be a great addition.


The colts we used were full brothers that were “Hancock” bred. My wife found them through her network of friends, and I thought they may be to gentle as she said they had been handled quite a bit.

Well it turns out they were perfect. They had been handled real well. I took the three year old and Ben the two year old. They got called (by some smarty) Old Blue and Young Blue, and of course I was Old Curt and working with young Ben.


We got them saddled and I was able to compare working with the young horse to similarly working with young cattle to get them calm and ready to preform. The process is very similar on both and I think I have a real advantage from starting so many colts and getting them settled and knowing how to do the same with all animals.

We had 45 minutes the first session so we saddled them and moved them around and got them ready to get on. We then had a break from the colt session and put them up for an hour and a half. Then we saddled them again.

When you are doing a demo like this, it is about education and entertainment.
Well what we had done so far was education, but I knew we needed to add a little entertainment. So we just stepped on, and I knew Ben could handle it, and would enjoy it. We gave them their head and just let em move out. The colts did great and things got a little fast a time our two, but it was fun and exiting and the colts actually needed to move their feet and go somewhere anyway.


We got our ropes down and swung em all around em, put it around their legs and under the tail and really let em get used to all the things a ranch horse should be exposed too.

I really enjoy seeing how presenting things properly to animals and people makes lots of difference in outcomes. To little is as bad as to much sometimes.
The more experience I get, the better I am at reading the proper pressure to use.

Ben just went along with what I was doing, and added his own personal style to it and really helped the colt. We worked with em for the next two days and he really made some nice changes with his colt. I wanted to expose him to some of the things I’ve learned that have worked for me, and to try to get him to exploring what would work for him. He’s the kind of kid that has a real strong mind of his own and knows what he wants, but if you offer it to him right he will take it and use it in his own way. A lot of people don’t like to work with “Hancock bred horses” but I feel they are the same. If you present things in a way they can accept them they will be good, but if you try to fight or force, you had better pull your cinch up and your hat down because things are going to get western.


Well, things were going along real good, but I thought Young Bens Young Blue was going to have to buck a little. We could of snuck around him and no one would have seen it and then at some later point it would come out. As a colt starter I feel it is your job to sometimes have to go ahead and expose one so he does buck , and you need to ride him forward through it to get him over it. This is why I think the first ride or two you get a little aggressive and let some of that come out, then you can go on with the stuff that makes a good horse. If it’s in there (bucking) you need to get it out. If you can’t ride good enough to ride one through it, maybe you shouldn’t be starting colts, at least the ones we need to have try enough for real work.

So I figured Young Blue would buck a little if something kinda surprised him, so I threw my halter rope under my horses neck and caught on the other side to back him up. Ben did the same and Young Blue might have got touched with a leg and the having the halter rope pop up on the other side was more stimulus than he needed. So he went to bucking a little, not real hard, but hard enough for it to buck Young Bens microphone out of his pocket. Well Young Ben got his horse rode, microphone caught and things under control, and I got lots of enjoyment out of this situation I got to set up.


We really made some nice changes in the colts and I feel like we really added to what good work had already happened to them. I really liked my colt and I think Ben liked his. We all learned a lot and also I feel the folks watching go to see some nice changes. It was very enjoyable to me.


(Exposing colt to holding a roped calf)


(My last ride on “Old Blue” with Ron Gates in background)

I have started lots of colts in lots of Priefert round pens, but it has been awhile since my long time friend Ron Gates added his smile and positive attitude to the mix. It was great to get to work with old friends and new ones together.

There are so many things to learn and think about when it comes to working with animals. Last year was a great year working with the whole Stockmanship and Stewardship crew. I feel 2018 will be even better.


(The whole crew working as a team)

I’ll tell you one more thing that happened to me at convention. I like to go set in the bleachers and prepare myself from where people are going to be watching.
It helps me see what they are going to see. Vendors were setting up and getting ready for the trade show.

While I was sitting there, Superior Livestock was having a video auction and it was being broadcast from their booth at the trade show. They always start with the National anthem, and I heard it and started to try to figure out where it was coming from. I found an American flag and stood up and as I looked out over the trade show, I saw people stand and pay respect to the flag and the National Anthem. I was up where I could see everyone within hearing distance, and everyone I saw had their hat off and their hand over their heart. Nobody told them to do it, and some of them had no way of knowing where it was even coming from. It was one of those moments.

As I am on this airplane trying to keep my coffee from spilling because of the turbulence and reflecting on the last few days, I realize how lucky I am to be involved with the people in the livestock industry.

Chase DeCoite heads up the Stockmanship and Stewardship program for The NCBA and he has really added to the commitment to educate. My friends and co workers Ron Gill, Todd MacCartney, and Dean Fish all live what they say and teach.

Young Ben and all the young people I have met this past year in this livestock industry really inspire me and give me confidence that all sectors of agriculture are going to get better as we go, because of the great young folks and the technology they are going to use. We that have practical knowledge need to share and mentor to help add common sense to it, in a way that makes sense to them, not us.

As I was observing from up on the bleachers that day and watched all those folks when our National Anthem was playing, I was real proud of being in this industry. I’ll say it again, I think I have the best job in the world!




In his last words to the “cowboys “ John Wayne (Will Andersen) said:

Wil Andersen : I’m proud of ya… All of ya. Every man wants his children to be better’n he was. You are.

This is one of my favorite scenes from a movie. He really showed his appreciation for how the boys stepped up to do the job of taking care of his livestock.

My Son Rial and his girlfriend Mary Kate stepped up and did a job taking care of livestock this last month, in a set of strange circumstances.

A local sheep rancher and fence builder had a bad accident and broke his neck. He could not care for his sheep. The bucks got in last summer and they figured it was to hot to breed. (It wasn’t) We had lots of snow and very cold temperatures.

Rial and Mary Kate took care of those sheep like they were their own and really made a team to feed and lamb the ewes in the worst possible circumstances. One night it was near -30 and they had lots of lambs. They didn’t save em all but really worked hard for Vern and Dutch and the sheep.

They have had lots of challenges this past year, but they really stepped up and did the right thing as a team.


I visited my Grandmother and she told me lots of stories about “Ed” my Grandfather working for and making money for people taking care of the livestock. He was a good sheep man, so I guess it’s in Rials blood.
Hired stockman have been making sacrifices and making money for other people for a long time. It’s just what we do.

I went to Nebraska and worked with two feedlot crews at Gottsch Cattle Co.

In Red Cloud Nebraska, we started at 5 am to get cattle ready for shipping. We finished about 5 that afternoon working hard the whole day. While cleaning up and feeding someone noticed an old horse that wasn’t right. Some of the crew stayed with and tried to keep the old horse comfortable and consulted with vets and friends, but we all new what was going to happen. They stayed to the end with the horse partner, keeping him comfortable and out of pain, and left around midnight, then were back the next morning at 5 to go after it again. These young cowboys would have made John Wayne Proud.

At Juniata, the weather turned cold. We started at 4 am, with zero on the thermometer and about a twenty mile per hour wind. We moved two pens in the dark, got them to the scale and loaded. Then they rode pens all day in the very cold windy conditions. The water system had a malfunction and all the water tanks froze up. At 5 p.m. when they finished up the riding on cattlework they all picked up an ax and went to chopping ice and getting water to 60 thousand cattle. They finished at 9:30 and were back first thing the next morning.

People that care for livestock just do what I have been talking about. You do what it takes to do the job. I wish you could see how dedicated the people I have watched and worked with all my life are to the care of livestock. We may not always agree with how things are done, may not always do things perfect, but when it comes to the care of livestock you won’t find a more dedicated than the stockman.

So I’m with John Wayne- I’m Proud of ya, is what he said, and I say I’m proud to be a part of this great Stockmans culture.

Working Cows Podcast


Clay Conry interviewed me for his “Working Cows” podcast.  I am real happy with the way it turned out, and he sure asked some good questions. Sometimes I’m just in the right frame of mind and things work out, and this is one of those times where he asked good questions and I had good answers.  I think it really brings out my thoughts and feelings about being a stockman.  Hope you enjoy it and find it useful.