Monday, May 20, 2024
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Moving Bulls Safely

Thanks to the Beef Quality Assurance program for this helpful video about how to be safe around bulls. For those of you who have slow internet speeds, or who prefer reading to watching, I put together a transcript for you, below. Enjoy!


Handling bulls is a really different situation and each bull’s going to be different. The problem with a bull is you never know what kind of mood he’s going to wake up in. So, you always have to approach a bull with caution. I don’t care if he’s been a lifetime pet. He may wake up that morning in a bad mood and take somebody down and kill them if they’re not careful.

The thing with a bull is if you put too much pressure on ‘em too quick, their natural instinct is to fight. They’re not much like a cow who’s either fight or flight. The bull’s gonna fight. So, if you put too much pressure on him and don’t give him a chance to take it off himself, he’s going to learn to brace against you in the pasture or the corrals or whatever.

So, there is a technique, and you need to do it with bulls or cows or whatever, is you put pressure on a bull, if he starts to make any advance to you, you probably ought to back up a half a step or a step until he backs away from you. And then you can go on and put more pressure on him. Until you do that, and you teach him to turn away from you, and so that, if a bull’s on the fight, either leave him alone, put him with cows or really take your time to work him. Because they can really become dangerous and they can charge you at a moment’s notice. Once they learn to drive and you get them going away from you, that’s where that sweeping back and forth behind them works a lot better. If you stay static on their rear end, behind them, they’ll normally turn and face you.


We breed our bulls to be very effective breeders and to be very resilient to lots of different harsh conditions and some of that is a bit of a problem because they’re tough. Moving bulls, you really need to know the individual bulls. It’s important. Some of them are a little different temperament than others and often times I know at home we treat some bulls right in the field without a halter or anything because we know they’re temperament. Others we got to get them in the corral, there’s no two ways about it. So, bulls are a different group of animals to deal with because they are just so tough and independent and used to doing things their own way.


I would like to see you spend a little bit of time getting the bulls where you can move them, you can control them, you can put them anywhere in a pasture and work with them a little bit before you turn them out with the cows. I even like to get my bulls, if I got some young horses and some young bulls, I’ll put my stock trailer out in the pasture and get to where I can load them without any facilities. And it’s real good for the young horse. And all you got to do is when the bull is looking away from the trailer, you put pressure on him. When he sticks his head towards the trailer, you take the pressure off. Before long, he’ll think that trailer is the brush and he’ll go get in it. So, I like to do those kinds of things before I turn the bulls out. Then when I go to get the bulls or pull them, it’s a piece of cake.

When you’re handling bulls that are sick, you’ve really got to slow it down. Bulls are big, bulky animals and when they don’t feel good it takes a lot of work, and they get sore and they don’t want to go. And they will turn and fight on you faster than any animal. Or they’ll go find a hole or some brush and then you can’t get them out. You can’t put enough pressure on them to get them out. So, when you approach an animal that’s sick, a bull that’s sick, you’ve got to put the pressure on lightly and let that animal lightly and let that animal move away from that pressure. The first thing I want to teach that bull is that I’m not going to keep that pressure on, as soon as he moves where I want him to go I’m going to take the pressure off. Once you tell that bull, or teach him that, you can take him anywhere.

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Kathy Voth
Kathy Voth
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.


  1. All this information skirts around the foundation of getting bulls safe and easy to work consistently. A problem with bulls isn’t because of their moods, it’s that they don’t perceive that we, not them, are in full command under all circumstances. Bulls can take a great deal of pressure without fighting us-but they may fight us when handling doesn’t fit them so handling must fit the animal. Bulls that are used to getting their way/have poor attitudes because of poor handling-all stock have different temperaments. Bud Williams’ stockmanship is handling that fits the animals because his method comes right from the animals. Although there are some correct tips in this article, readers should understand that with bulls (and all your animals) establish that leadership (benevolent) and dominance and use stockmanship that is correct to do this and use it thereafter. Stick with Bud Williams’ stockmanship and you’ll get results that are the best and safest-there are lots of resources to learn this.

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