Training Cattle to Follow Part 2: Working With Short Term Cattle

Teaching cattle to come to call is pretty easy. It takes time and patience, but it is not all that hard. Here’s the problem: sometimes, you just don’t have that much time. In Part 1 of this series, I talked about receiving cattle and working with them for quite a long time, developing a relationship, training them to come to hay, training them to associate a positive experience (eating) with an oral cue (Kulning). Fine. But sometimes I receive cattle that are delivered directly onto grass. There is absolutely no “warm-up” period where I can get them socialized and trained up.  What now? Clearly, I need a technique that will allow me to get cattle to follow me around with very little actual training. The answer came to me one day while I was fishing. I was casting a flatfish lure –a bit of plastic shaped like a banana—and I was watching fish following the lure. It struck me that many fish are virtually compelled to follow that lure, even fish that have no intention of eating it. For instance, sometimes fish that are much smaller than the lure actively follow it. There is something about the wiggle-waggle movement of the lure that simply drives fish of all sizes and types to follow that lure. I began thinking about what a cow lure might look like. My secret weapon for training fresh cattle to lead:  The Sled. The

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4 thoughts on “Training Cattle to Follow Part 2: Working With Short Term Cattle

  1. I can appreciate your approach to working with cattle, and your willingness to take the time and effort to write an article sharing it. That said, I would strongly encourage readers to learn proper stockmanship methods from someone who is well trained in Bud William’s methods. Calling cattle can work ok in some situations, but not all, and can cause problems, at least from what I’ve seen, in some cases.

    For instance, calling cow calf pairs, especially cows with fairly young calves, creates a fair amount of stress on the cattle. The calves are not “trained” to the calling, and Mom is “trained” to respond, so now she must choose between responding to the call, so she can get feed, or her calf. Cows and calves get separated and ball, loudly. I’ve seen this happen too often, and have seen it create some of the nosiest cattle I’ve ever heard.

    A better way, at least for the cow calf pairs is to walk out among them, get them up, allow a few minutes for cows to mother up with their calves and then move them using pressure and release methods, which can be taught to animals of any age.

    Those same pressure and release techniques will also help you get animals through any situation, even ones the cattle don’t necessarily want to go through by calling them.

    Now, I am not totally against calling, and I do teach my cattle to respond to my voice, though I don’t call them. I do remember one Nebraska rancher, who normally uses Bud William’s stockmanship methods, talking about how her cattle were used to her calm voice, as she would often talk to them. That was helpful during a blizzard, when she couldn’t find the cattle, she called to them, and they found her. She was then able to move them to a protected area.

    Again, I appreciate you writing this, but anyone who is going to invest in sheep or cattle should also invest time and money into learning how to handle them properly. There is a fantastic school you can attend advertised on this page.

    Full disclosure: I am in no way affiliated with that school or any other stockmanship school. I am a cattle producer who has been learning and using Bud William’s proper stockmanship methods for the past 15 years, and I would not want to handle cattle any other way. Once you learn, understand, and apply those methods you will likely not want to go back to other methods either.

  2. Thank for another article that emphasizes the bond between the human and the animals. I’ve watched little children work with free-range chickens the same way.

  3. Enjoyed the article. Like with most things there can be an exception. I am not in favor of using a truck horn for calling cattle. Cattle theft is a problem we face and one of the easiest methods is for a rustler to drive up, honk the horn and with the aid of a good dog load up your cattle. That can be a pretty hefty loss!

  4. excellent article based on sound theoretical and applied principles…this is the type of piece that will be shared for years to come.

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