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Kathy’s Principles for Working With Livestock

By   /  May 17, 2021  /  4 Comments

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Over the last few weeks I’ve been highlighting the importance of principles. To me, principles
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About the author

Publisher, Editor and Author

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.


  1. Clifton Walker says:

    I like a to whistle. I have long drawn out one that means come to me. And, no sharp short that they know means go forward (this is when I’m behind them pushing). Works well most of the time.

  2. Jonathan Kipps says:

    I agree with most of this article. A lot of the things stated here come naturally to a person who’s worked with livestock for many years. It can be challenging though, to stop and think WHY I do what I do.

    One area that I have to frequently remind myself about, is when working with cattle in a parlor holding pen or corral. My eyes are five feet above the ground. The cattle’s eyes are much lower. It’s tempting to get frustrated at a cow because she won’t push past someone else and into the empty space beyond. Unlike myself, she can’t see that there’s space beyond the cow blocking her path. Her sightline is completely obstructed.

  3. Marike says:

    I am farming in South Africa with sheep and cattle. By watching the reactions of the sheep toward each other and their lambs, I saw that they communicate by certain body signals. I started to mimic it and it works, although better for the sheep than cattle. The cattle needs another strickt worker to force them in the passage to work with. Always when I’m visiting my animals, I am talking calm and constantly to them. They will become very tame and especially the younger calves will come closer to greed you. GREETING SIGNAL: Stretched out arm and hand showed downward. They will often come and sniff or lick it. CHALLENGE SIGNAL: Stretched arm with hand palm and fingers showing upward. Especially ram lambs will come to play head-bump with you. My working language is to click with my tongue and hand signals, like a speed cop. I never click with only a visit. An animal gets confused where to go when you wave and swing your arms and shout. I will click my tongue and show them where to go. I nearby always work with them approaching from the front. I will show then with my outstretched arm where to go. Another worker will put the pressure at the back when needed. It is even working when I want them to turn around. I will show them to turn and the direction. I will talk strict when they do the wrong movement and will move to block them. I will guide and praise them calmly with the right movement. They are learning very quickly when they are already tame and in this calm environment. I am using a electric fence to divide the pasture into smaler paddocks. The cattle talks to you when the grass gets less. When I open the new piece I will call them with their herd call. Sounds…. MOEeeHOEE (with a raise in the pitch at the end) It is never needed to go and fetch them.

  4. Curt Gesch says:

    I should have had someone pound these principles into me before I got any cows. OK: not “pound” but “entice” me to follow them. They also work for chickens, a creature with even less brain than a cow, I suspect.

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