Hanging Tree puppy hangin

There are lots of ways to make a cow dog.  The thing that should determine the way you go about it is what you really need from your dog or dogs to put the kind of pressure on livestock you need to achieve your livestock handling goals.

What I am looking for is dogs that read livestock and read me either through my commands or from our working relationship and time spent together.

I am of the opinion that it doesn’t matter what method you use, that’s up to you and what your style is, but for me if your are trying to work stock with the least amount of stress and the training of cattle to work and take pressure the dog needs to have “feel”.

The best way to get dogs to have feel is to train and work them with feel.  Feel to me is having the ability to create the correct amount of pressure at the proper time, and release or change the pressure at the right time.  The more skills you have the more kinds of pressure you can use.

I’m not afraid to work with lots of dogs.  I know if the dogs are hooked on to stock I can circle the bunch and drive the dogs around to take some of the pressure off and keep the livestock in a pretty small area.

I feel for young dogs they will gain a lot more confidence when you have the pack mentality and gain lots of confidence. It’s much harder to get them off of cattle, which proves my point.  Just when you get them coming off one will go back and then they all do.  I don’t worry about it.  When I worry is when the come off to easy.

Now my bunch are ready to start working by themselves or with a dog that is more advanced.  I also want to get them to understanding a few commands, and having them on a line helps keep their minds where I need it.  

This is how I like to get them understanding the loss of freedom when you put a collar and line on them.

Pasture to plate-a tribute to a small bull with a big personality

Several years ago I purchased a small herd of cattle.  By small herd I mean small in number and small in size, as they were miniatures.  We’ve had lots of small moves on our small place with my small cattle.  They were all real gentle except 1 cow.

I got them sold when we’re at the 63 ranch a couple years ago and when we were loading them the little wild cow jumped out and was long gone and didn’t get sold.  

When we came home after our time in Park county the little cow came with us.  She had a little bull calf that was just as wild a his mother. They really helped my situation training dogs as they would quit the bunch and the dogs had something to go bring back to the herd.  They added a “little” life( I hope you are getting my small and little jokes)to my very gentle normal cattle.

The reason I have cattle around here is not so much for monetary gain but for gain in knowledge for me and the horses and dogs I am working with, and to manage the forage and gain knowledge on grazing practices.  Also I like good old time beef to eat at least twice a day and sometimes three.

I have found you can really learn to read and learn best management practices to really see the effects your decisions have with smaller numbers. (That’s not part of the joking) I’ve been part of lots of big operations and there is plenty to learn there but it’s a different learning.

The trouble with the minis is there is a very mini demand for them.   The bull calf grew up and I sure wouldn’t of wanted to take the big teasing for the little bull at the sale.

I had gone and helped Nichole Wines and her crew at Big Sky Processing with some cattle handling and facilities design and new it was a good outfit so I made an appointment to take him there.

I told Nichole I would have him there at a quarter to eight on Monday morning.  I put hay out in Mesas corrals and took the 15 head I have here over for the night and got my trailer backed in and panels set to load first thing in the morning.  I was going to take a regular bull to the Lewistown livestock auction that is not far from the slaughter facility so the little bull didn’t have to travel alone and increase the chance of the stress creating a dark cutter, as it’s about an hour drive from my place.

I headed over early and had three dogs with me.  I got the cattle in to the round pen with my dogs and sorted the two bulls off with not to much difficulty.  Then I separated them and the little bull was starting to get snuffy and missing his mamma and the other cows.  I loaded the big bull in the front compartment, and when I put the little bull in the Bud box he was snuffy. I moved him into the next spot where I had put a Priefert panel to get to the trailer.  I put him in the trailer and when I would try to shut the butterfly gates he would run back out.  I got a rope and tied on the off gate and went on the outside to put him in and he ran at me to hook me and put his head under the panel and went right out through the fence and headed for the brush with a nine in his tail.

It’s still pitch dark outside so I got the cattle out of the corral and sent them his way. I waited a while and got everything tied back together to try again if I could get him back in.  It’s so slick with ice around here and I don’t have anything sharp shod so saddling a horse was not in my plans.

I sent Line and Silver and away they went into the dark.  Pretty soon I hear cattle coming and sure enough the little bull was with them.  I got him sorted again and put him in the holding area and just put a little pressure on from a distance and he went and stood in the trailer.  I just let him get comfortable there and when he would come out I would put a little pressure on until he stood in the trailer.  I was able to get the gates shut and latched without him running out, so I felt pretty good about my stockmanship skills but now I’m running late.  I call Nichole and she said no problem they have another they can put before mine.

All the Exclusive lamb and rice dog food is a little more worth while when your dogs do good.

My son Rial is going along as he has interest in being a butcher so we head that way.

The bull was really bothered and on the fight when we got there so my plan of keeping him calm didn’t work.  I would have taken a couple calves with him but you need a brand inspection to go across county lines so that was out.

I left Rial and the bull and took the other bull to the auction market and had a nice visit with Kyle Shobe about the livestock business and a demo we are going to do in a month or so at his market.  I always enjoy visiting with sharp cattleman and Kyle is one.

I got back to Big Sky processing and went on the kill floor and they were gutting and skinning him and Rial was right there in the middle of it.  My grandfather, his great grandfather was a butcher and he would sure have been proud to see Rial with a knife in one hand and a hide with no holes in the other.

One way my grandfather showed me to see if an questionable beef was going to be hamburger or good enough for some better cuts to be used was to take the hanging tender and fry it and it gives you a quick preview of the tenderness and taste of the beef.

Well I brought it home and cleaned it up and trimmed the sinew off and had a couple butterfly steaks for breakfast.  If had excellent flavor and was not tough so I think we will get some of the better cuts made into steak.  In my time going to Mexico and seeing all the feedlots finishing only bulls I’m sure not afraid to try it with my own.

So there it is my big story about the little bull.  I got to thinking last night about the whole deal and his life on this place.  He had a good deal.  Great feed and shelter, always with other cattle and he would put the run on any bull.  He sure had a lot of try and I got lots of pleasure while he was alive, he was part of the animal-grass-soil ecosystem that is so important for the environment, and we are going to enjoy what he is going to provide for us with great tasting healthy protein.

I also kinda wish I would of just loaded him up and jumped him out up in the snowy mountains somewhere and let him run wild.  I don’t think anyone could have coughs him! He was a small bull with a big heart.

The bull and his mother


Flying home from New Orleans and the annual National Cattleman’s Beef Association convention and trade show that I have been a part of every year since 2005.  It’s now part of the Stockmanship and Stewardship program that Merc Animal health sponsors across the country each year.

It started with a great presentation of the style and tradition of the Luisiana cattle and horse industry.  I met Kent Ledoux and his family on a visit to the Gray Ranch many years ago and then started one of the Ranch colts for Vinton Feeds along with Purina in a demonstration at the race track there in Luisiana.

He did a great job showing the style and some of the tools that were pretty much only used in the southeast and Louisiana.  The stockman of Luisiana has many challenges that we don’t have in other places.  The main challenges are bugs, worms, bogs and hurricanes.  Kent told about one time having 100 head bog down.  The high spot on the ranch was 23 feet above sea level.

The Gray Ranch is known for their great horse program and Kent brought two gooduns.  A grey Mare and a bay roan gelding that I got to ride.  

I got along pretty good with the bay, and used him the next two days in our demos and my Partner Ron Gill Used the Grey.  We had four sessions a day that we presented, and Dean Fish and Todd McCartney helped us with them all.  

The cowboy crew and the sound and video crew-best sound yet!

The focus was on Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) best practices type handling to share ideas with the audience in attendance to take home and try and also to give guidance on how to communicate these best practices with family and employees at their operations.

It is so great to be surrounded by and visit with likeminded cattleman from all over the country and world.  People seem to really enjoy the live cattle and horses in the middle of the big city convention centers and we love to get to share ideas and work cattle in these settings.  Dean and Todd and the NCBA staff do an incredible amount of planing and work to get it all done.

It wasn’t all work.  I never take the time to see the sights, but Wednesday morning I took a walk down to the French quarter and had some great Cajun food and walk clear down to the places people lived and saw quite a bit of the culture for that Cajun lifestyle.  I liked it in the morning but had no interest in going down at night with the Mardigras  crowd.  I enjoyed my pasture walk!

I ate lots of great Cajun food!

A couple of other fun things I got to do was and interview with Cattleman to Cattleman Host Russel Nimitz with me and my longtime friend Forrie Smith.  If you don’t know the name he is Loyd on the tv show “Yellowstone “ and a big star.

Interview will be on RFD Cattleman to Cattleman.

The thing I am so proud of this rough raised crazy wild cowboy is that he had a dream and never quit going for it and finally hit the big time, and he is using that fame to promote Ranching and all things cowboy.

We had lots of fun before his handlers wisked him away for his next interview.

That night my Friends Bill Dale and Mike Williams we’re headed off to dinner and David Nelson my longtime leader from Purina grabbed us and took us to a big purina gathering at a fancy restaurant.  I got sat down next to this crazy Cajun guy and it didn’t take long to figure out he was a famous something.  His name was Troy and was the star of the show “Swamp People”.  We had a great time and ate lots of great food, with lots of good people laughing and really enjoying themselves mostly because of this crazy Cajun alligator hunter.  Lots of fun.

Friday morning I met my friend Trent Johnson at his Greeley Hatworks Booth at 7 am because that was the only time he had free to visit and shape my new hat. I don’t know how many hats he has made and shaped for me but it’s a bunch. I’ve never had one that didn’t fit and I’ve never changed the shape one. He knows.

Trent loves his business and the western lifestyle it represents and gives back more than anyone I know. If you want quality get a Greeley.

After our last Demo the last day of the convention I went to watch my friend and mentor Tom Noffsinger get his award for being selected “BQA Educator of the year”. 

I am so glad he got this award.  He has helped thousands of people in all parts of animal agriculture see and understand the importance of good animal stewardship and has been a big part of BQA training for a long time.  It was so great to see he and his wife Diane up on that stage so proud and happy.

I can’t believe I have got to be around the greatest people in the greatest industry in the world for the last 17 years.  The folks at the NCBA have been great.  Michaela, Jollee, Josh, Grace and the rest of crew along with Merc Animal health make it all work.

Thank you and I hope we see you all next year at a stockmanship and stewardship event or in Florida for the next convention.