Tag Archives: working with a cow and calf

Thoughts and Sights from New Mexico Indian Livestock Days

At the New Mexico Indian Livestock days I presented a stockmanship and stewardship presentation.  We had several pairs with the calves being all different ages and sizes.

This was one of my favorite and in my opinion the best format for a live demonstration.  We actually were able to simulate most of the handling situations that would happen with a cow-calf during an entire year on a western range outfit.

969114_10100186827713051_2014293616_nIn this picture I caught the calf with a long throw that he did not even see coming. I then walked with him on my horse to keep from putting to much pressure on him with the rope.  When I him laid him down nice and easy, he struggled and I applied pressure with my hands and right leg.  As soon as he quit struggling I took most of the pressure off, but not all.  He very quickly learned to relax, and was then ready to be tagged, vaccinated, or whatever else you needed to do.

I feel this is a great first interaction between human and the calf.  The calf will always remember that if he relaxes the pressure will come off.  This will prepare him to be calm in the chute his first time, if he is handled properly.

The next three photos are demonstrating getting control of an older animal, laying it down softly, and having it relaxed enough to accept what you need to do, without having its heart pounding and lungs burning. Click on the photos for a full description of what’s happening.

If you can rope the animal without running it, get it to give to the rope (this is why I rope with a slick horn, to smoothly give a little slack as soon as the animal thinks about not resisting), it will learn to stand.  I then rode a circle around the calf to wrap up his hind legs, laid him down softly and then by keeping his hind feet off the ground, could get off and hold him down.   At this point you secure the calf, and perform whatever procedure that’s needed.  Always remember to practice Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) protocols.

If you can do this type of handling slow and easy it is safe and very effective and can be low stress, however it takes practice and commitment, like all good stockmanship skills.

Hopefully we will have more photos or even some video from our mock branding, sorting, and weaning of these desert cattle.

It was a great day for me.  Horses for Heroes and the Cowboy Up program provided horses and crew.  What an inspiration!

I don’t know if the folks watching learned anything, but I sure learned so much about native traditions, their love of Mother Earth and the horse.

If you ever get a chance, go to New Mexico and learn about the traditions of the Indian.

~ Curt Pate