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Good Stockmen Understand What an Animal is “Saying”

By   /  February 1, 2016  /  6 Comments

“Reading” what an animal is saying with it’s movements is the best way to know how to tell it what you’d like it to do next. These examples will help you “talk” to your animals.

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On our way up the pyramid of building the foundation for becoming good animal handlers we’ve a
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About the author

Whit is a fourth generation Montana rancher who spent aobut 38 years handling cattle conventionally before making the paradigm shift to low-stress livestock handling (LSLH) as taught by Bud Williams. For the past 10 years he has studied and practice LSLH, and shares his knowledge in clinics, onsite consultations, and articles. He began publishing the Stockmanship Journal in 2012. It is the definitive source for quality information on stockmanship. Though the importance of stockmanship is becoming well recognized, until this Journal, there was no professional publication addressing the subject. Hibbard began publishing the Journal in January of 2012 to provide a consistent and efficient way to share information on stockmanship, and to serve as a forum for open, intelligent and informed dialogue. The Journal is a means for improving the level of discourse and the discipline of stockmanship. It is published twice a year in electronic form and includes articles written by experts in the field.



    Thanks to LSLH, I can now work my sheep in less time then 2 of us were able to just a few years ago. Now I’m trying to figure out how to retrain my milk cow, who’s goal seems to be to get her foot inside the milk pail. Any Ideas?

  2. Jane Schofield says:

    This is true of all animals; they are smarter than we give them credit for, because we just don’t read them very well. They read us much better.

  3. Dr Dan says:

    One problem in confined spaces is if the cattle have been handled many times the wrong way in this confined space they have learned to bolt

    • Paul Nehring says:

      Instead of being a problem look at it as being an opportunity to retrain the cattle to so that they are calm in the corral. That will take practice for both you and them, which will make both of you better off in the long run.
      Cattle can learn to trust your leadership, though it will take longer for some than for others.

  4. Morlu Korsor says:

    This article was quite explicit, giving ways animals communicate with their herders through reading them. Although the author focused on cattle, this may apply to small ruminants (sheep and goats). As a researcher of goats, I observed that goats just as cattle, communicate very well and if read properly, less stress is being posted on them. Goats are very happy animals if the herder understands them. When they look at you continuously, they are saying something to you. Get closer to see what is happening and you will see that something went wrong or there is need for something. When they make sound, it means something is needed or something gone wrong. Reading animals constantly and checking on them can help reduce stress and improve the herd health and development. Less stress animals grow faster and healthier.

    • Jane Schofield says:

      My daughter had a small dairy herd of Nubians that ran free around the farm; her ‘herd queen’ came to the house on 2 separate occasions to get help when one of the does had caught up her collar. This involved leaving the herd, not a ‘normal’ behavior. She appeared in the garage, calling loudly, and when my daughter went out, she turned & led her to the problem. Who needs Lassie? Goats can be scary smart.

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