This past week I presented cattle handling demos at 5 different areas in Minnesota. I have not presented for several months. The first day in Badger, Minnesota I was a little scattered in my “power point” ( I use my Greeley Hat works hat for it, not a computer)presentation. I got what I wanted to cover covered, just not as smooth as I would of liked.
The rest of the week went good on the discussion side and I feel real good about what I call the “dry work” part of my presentation. I feel it is very important to present attendees with basic information that they can really put in their mind and own it for themselves rather than just be told what is good and bad. I really enjoy the challenge of presenting a subject that is difficult to effectively explain to people. I also think it’s important to set things up for better understanding of what the attendees are in the “live work”.
I really felt spot on with my live work. In three of the five I got to demonstrate gathering cattle from a pasture. That usually doesn’t happen for various reasons but the organizations putting it together were all grazing based and the producers that hosted were mostly grazers with power fence so it was easy to have cattle close to pens.
In all three that we brought cattle from the pasture to the corral, or a smaller pasture, the cattle put themselves in. I didn’t force them, but created the right kind of pressure that the drift of the cattle caused them to graze their way or drift into the corral without being forced. When cattle go into a corral this way you don’t even have to worry about shutting the gate in a hurry. They decided to go in so they aren’t in a hurry to leave. They were very ready to be pressured in the corral and worked really nice, because of the attitude they had coming in to the pen, and the way they learned to accept my pressure getting set up to come in.
I was also able to demonstrate what I feel is very important bringing cattle out of a pen or into a new pasture. From a profit standpoint it is very important to get cattle to put their head down and eat when you ask them to. Cattle gain when they are putting more energy into the body than they are putting out. Being able to control movement and placing them where you want them is a very good management tool in a pasture situation and also in a feedlot pen. If cattle are walking they are trampling feed and not gaining weight, and for some reason don’t want to be where they are.
To get the most out of a horse, a good horseman controls the movement of his horse. The more control the more you can get done with the partnership. The same goes with cattle. If you can get them to go to a place then stop and be content, you really increase the potential for better feed utilization and improve the potential for profit.
With a horse we can use contact of our body and the mouth to control and stop movement. The mouth is as far forward as we can get on a horse and it works good to control forward movement once the horse understands checking up movement. You need to balance the pressure on both sides or the movement will go in a circle. If you try to stop the horse faster than he is ready for or if he is not trained to it he will fight the pull and run through the stop.
Same thing with cattle. They need to be checked up and learn to slow and stop straight. The more cattle you have the more “herd” movement you have and the more push they will have. You need to position yourself far enough forward to keep them from splitting and going around you, but be close enough that they are slowing their feet down until they stop. If you force them to stop quickly they may turn back and have “panic” movement in the other direction and you are at the back and lose control.
This is such a good thing to do and easy to see how to do it. It takes a little time and work to get it to working for you but it really helps the cattle and feed.
There were several different working systems and corral designs in the different locations. We got the animals through them all without much trouble. The ones I had the most trouble with were the ones I didn’t have any where to work with the cattle before going to the processing area.
I have had a great summer of total immersion in handling livestock. I have been on horseback, or under (shoeing) or around (saddling) one from daylight to dark all summer and spending lots of time with my small number of steers. I really feel like my handling skills and timing is real good right now. I have a lot of confidence in my ability to get animals to do what I would like them to do.
Horses, cattle, dogs and grass!
It doesn’t get much better than that.
That’s a great feeling and I hope the folks that sold time to buy what we offered this last week made a good trade, and from what they were presented can get on the way to improving their stockmanship and satisfaction.
Sitting on the plane and writing this and thinking things over I realize just how much I enjoy the people in agriculture. We had a great mix of farm folks from young enthusiastic brothers that are grazing and marketing their way to profit to a good Native American cowboy to farmer feeders to Hispanic dairy workers to cowboy poets to highly productive and forward thinking bull and performance horse breeders. The group that put it all together were well organized and all great to work for and really made it good for everyone.
I am always drawn to the hard working, good people from Mexico.
After being away from all the great people in this wonderful business of cattle production, it has made me realize just how good this business and the people that make work are!
Quality people, quality cattle, and quality resources make Beef Quality Assurance. I’m sure proud to be a part of it.