Stockmanship: An Essential Component of Sustainability

Stockmanship is a powerful, yet under-appreciated and under-utilized component of operating sustainable livestock operations. It requires no additional inputs, yet studies have shown that it can significantly increase animal performance, including weight gains, conception rates, milk yields, immune function and carcass quality. In fact, according to Paul Hemsworth, a prolific Australian animal science researcher, “the importance of this topic should not be underestimated because of its implications not only for the animal but also for the sustainability and economics of the livestock industries.” [1] Burt Smith, a rancher turned agronomist, is even more to the point: “The stockperson is a major factor in the productive level of livestock and can effectively make or break an operation.” [2] With this realization, On Pasture is reprinting a Guest Column series first published in Drovers, the purpose of which is to publish quality information on stockmanship. The series is written by a stockman for stockmen, and it focuses on practical, useful, operational knowledge. It’s ultimate objective is to provide the reader with the understanding and skills necessary to have better performing and more manageable cows. In this first article, we necessarily need to clearly define what we’ll be talking about. Without first defining terms people may assume that they are talking about the same thing when, in fact, they are not. As regards the term “stockmanship,” it mean

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