Sunday, June 16, 2024
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The Easiest Way to Move Livestock From One Place to Another

Kathy and Peter on John’s back deck.

My husband and I spent the Memorial Day Weekend in Oregon with our friend John Marble. We spent three days wandering around the ranch, looking at grass and cattle, talking about all the ranch projects John has in the works, and enjoying the beautiful Oregon spring. I’ll share some of the ranch projects later, but this week I want to talk about my favorite thing: Moving cows!!

We did two moves of the 125 or so heifers John is custom grazing. The first was across multiple pastures full of really good grass to a pasture near the house. John wanted to reduce the grass in that pasture as insurance against summer fires. The second move was from that pasture to an adjacent one through a middle of the fence gate. Both were accomplished with no fuss, and only a little bit of walking. All we had to do was call “C’mon girls!” and lead them along with the truck, in the case of the multi-pasture move, or me walking in front of them for the small move. I did have to get out of the truck once during the multi-pasture move to encourage a small group to move out of the shade of a clump of trees and continue on their walk. But it was just a leisurely morning stroll.

Kathy among John’s cows in tall grass.

Of course this flies in the face of the picture we have of cowboys in the west, mounted on their horses and riding behind the herd, pushing them along. We didn’t use any of the fancy techniques taught by low-stress livestock herders. And yes, I’m trained in them by Bud Williams himself, and I’ve used them to move cattle across 500 acre pastures. But after all these years, I find that leading cattle is so much easier and much more fun than herding them. It just makes me smile to be able to holler, “C’mon girls!” and watch them amble out of the woods, and slowly make their way to the truck.

So – that’s what this week is about: simple techniques for moving livestock that anyone can use with no training at all. I’ve also added a bit about helpful infrastructure for when you need to handle your livestock.

Enjoy!

Teaching Livestock to Come When Called

We’ll start with a short little exercise John does when a new herd arrives at the ranch in the spring.

Leading Instead of Herding – Why and How to Teach Your Livestock to Follow

Does it work across long distances or larger pastures? Here’s what I’ve learned. The first piece

Calling and Leading Livestock Over Long Distances – It’s Easy!

Because I began my career as a linguist, I think of this training as a kind of language. In case that’s helpful to you, here are some additional training tips. Plus, I always enjoy videos of coming running when they hear me calling them. 🙂

Tips for Training Livestock to Come When Called (and do other helpful things)

Is it Expensive?

For those folks who want to know the economics, here you go. John did a study that shows how much time you can save when animals are trained to come when called.

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

Paddocks and Infrastructure

Everything is even easier if you have your infrastructure set up to be easy for livestock and humans to maneuver around and through. John has some suggestions for gate set ups and paddock design that have worked for him.

Paddock Design and Stockmanship – Thinking It Through

John typically works alone, so when it comes time to move livestock into handling facilities, he’s made a few simple, inexpensive additions to his infrastructure to make things easy. Check the comments for John’s response to a low-stress livestock handling purist about why these kinds of additions should be encouraged, not looked down on.

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

John continues describing helpful handling infrastructure here, where he lays out how he was able to add a BudBox to his existing facilities and how easy it made his life.

We Finally Get a BudBox

So there you go! A series of stories about how “talking” to your livestock, in concert with some thoughtful infrastructure can make livestock moves and handling easy as pie.

And the Funnies!

Cowboys Herding Cats

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Kathy Voth
Kathy Vothhttps://onpasture.com
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.

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