You are here:  Home  >  Livestock  >  Behavior  >  Current Article

Enhanced Livestock Handling Facilities for the Single Man/Woman (With or Without Short Legs)

By   /  March 30, 2020  /  2 Comments

Because he usually works stock by himself, John Marble has modified his handling facilities to make it easy and safe for a single man/woman. Check out his tips and then share yours with the On Pasture Community.

    Print       Email
John Marble at 5’6″ and LeBron James at 6’8″. (Simulation – they never
    Print       Email

About the author

John Marble grew up on a terribly conventional ranch with a large family where each kid had their own tractor. Surviving that, he now owns a small grazing and marketing operation that focuses on producing value through managed grazing. He oversees a diverse ranching operation, renting and owning cattle and grasslands while managing timber, wildlife habitat and human relationships. His multi-species approach includes meat goats, pointing dogs and barn cats. He has a life-long interest in ecology, trying to understand how plants, animals, soils and humans fit together. John spends his late-night hours working on fiction, writing about worlds much less strange than this one.


  1. Whit Hibbard says:

    John Marble’s approach to handling livestock is a perfect example of the modern mindset of cattle producers: find mechanical solutions instead of stockmanship solutions to animal handling problems. Why would one go to the trouble and expense of building and maintaining wing fences and herding ropes instead of just learning how to improve ones stockmanship? A fundamental understanding of the principles and techniques of low-stress livestock handling–a particular form of stockmanship developed by Bud Williams–reported in prior issues of On Pasture make herding animals into and through any corral system easy–no wings and ropes or other aids necessary.

    • John Marble says:

      Thanks for your comments, Whit.

      It seems to me that your complaints here fall into two different camps: philosophical and economic. I’ll try to address both.

      Why would one go to the trouble and expense of building and maintaining wing fences and herding ropes?

      Well, for the same reasons we add corrals, sorting pens, alleyways, and BudBoxes to our facilities: they make our cattle handling operations more effective and efficient. Let’s face it, in the extreme sense, we could get by without nearly all of these “mechanical solutions” if we had unlimited time and energy to spend on stockmanship. I believe I could move these freshly arrived cattle up to a corner gate (as I did for 20 years or so) without a wing fence or a herding rope. But the time and effort required to achieve that result is tremendously reduced by the addition of these simple tools.

      As to the cost of building and maintaining wings and ropes, I’d have to say that those costs are nearly incalculable. Keep in mind that wing fences are not true containment devices; they simply guide the animal. Therefore, the cattle are virtually never in direct opposition to the wing fence, so there is virtually never any contact. The wing fences I have are the weakest, least substantial physical fences on the entire ranch. The one in the video is 100% used material and a couple hours labor. Maybe $100 total. Amortize that over the past 20 years. As to the cost of the rope, well, UV does play hell with polyethylene. That cost is about $1 per year.

      Finally, I think it is helpful for folks to look at a wide range of solutions to all problems. And if we come across a solution that looks different from our own, well, perhaps give it some careful consideration. If we can’t do that, next comes the question of whether we are trying to be right or simply righteous.


      John Marble

You might also like...

Calling and Leading Cattle is More Time and Cost Efficient Than Herding

Read More →
Translate »