As those of you who attended a Bud Williams Stockmanship School know, Bud didn’t like to give any sort of a “recipe” for handling cattle. However, here are three “steps” and several very important notes to keep in mind when you receive new animals or wean your own.
- Take the panic movement and fence walking out of them first. Do this by walking beside them (perhaps in the center of the pen/pasture so you don’t need to walk very far) in the same direction they are going which will slow/stop their movement. Be sure you don’t turn their movement back into the on-coming group.
NOTE: ANY TIME you are around your animals, be happy, have fun, and remind them that this is a great place to live. Your attitude is everything.
- Get the entire group of animals to take the same amount of pressure. Pressure in and work with the animals that sprint out. Teaching the group to take pressure is similar to sacking out a horse. You pressure in, and they should all move away quietly. This means they can handle loud noises, feed trucks, coyotes howling, thunder, etc. without tearing down the fences or getting agitated. After you get them to take the same pressure, teach them to start out where they all move forward with the same speed. They don’t need to walk slowly, but they all need to move under control and with the same speed.
- Now they know to stop and start, next teach them to take direction (turn left and right) from you.
NOTE: During this initial training, don’t work with them any longer than 20 minutes at any one time.
More Important Notes:
- Repeat the training steps above EVERY TIME before you do something with the livestock such as gather, sort, vaccinate, load, etc. AND EVERY TIME after you do anything with them such as shots, castrate, haul to new pasture, etc. This is vital. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes if you’ve trained them properly, but it has to be done. Even though the steps above are for “training” the animals, they are the very same steps you need to take to remove the stress off animals who had something happen to them which might add stress. This is one of the keys to dealing with newly received or weaned animals, taking the stress off of them after every event.
- Any time the animals respond to you, make sure it’s correct. If it’s not correct, fix it immediately (work with them). IE, if you happen to walk by a pen going somewhere else and the calves startle away from you, you HAVE to go into the pen immediately and work the calves to remove the stress and touch up step #2.
- Just because they aren’t bawling and walking the fence doesn’t mean they are settled forever or that they can take pressure. Follow all the steps and notes here.
- You are done working the animals when they are loaded on the trailer to go to their new home and not a MINUTE before!
Great job Richard and Tina, but don’t forget to caution people about taking too much movement out of the animals. The only movement that you need to stop is the “panic movement.” Panic movement can be wildly running into the fences or zombie-like walking. You can have just as many health problems in pens with very little movement. This is why Bud always said “Calves need to eat, drink and get proper exercise.” The exercise part is for their emotions, not their body. For most people, the best way to do this is to “take them for a walk.” For people who need a recipe he suggested doing this everyday for the first three or four days, then use your own judgment as to when they need it. Don’t think they have to quietly walk when you are driving them. These are kids, and you are taking them out for recess. Your goal is for them to want to play.