Mothering Cattle

Posted January 14th, 2015 — Filed in Stockmanship

One of the cattle forums I monitor had a discussion about ear tagging calves at birth. Many of the contributors were adamant that you HAD to do this in order to know which calf belonged to which cow which prompted my reply …

This is another case of technology dumbing us down. Mothering up cattle is a skill that, from the sounds of the comments, is well on the way to being lost. We were at a large ranch in Texas a few years ago where Bud had spent the week working with the crew. The last day they gathered a very difficult pasture. The manager wanted 100 pairs sorted out of about 800 head to send to another ranch. Bud was able to do this quite easily, out in the pasture and sending the cuts through a gate into another pasture. Every one of the 15 or so cowboys who were there agreed there were no mis-matched pairs in his cut.

When we were working at the feedlot in Canada, the owner asked Bud to bring in a certain pair. We never worked with his cowherd and weren’t familiar with the individual animals. When Bud brought the cow and calf in the owner said “You have the wrong calf. The ear tags don’t match.” Bud said “I don’t know about the ear tags, but this is her calf.” And it was …

Then I got this message on my personal e-mail …

Thanks for all the input on Pharo’s forum! I was wondering how Bud paired up pairs? I’m just going to admit that my mind is blank on how you pair up pairs could you explain or is it on your videos that Terry ordered haven’t got clear thru them yet!

Hi Jerry, There isn’t anything specific about teaching you to pair up cattle in the video. This is something you need to observe when you are around your cattle. Pay attention and watch the interaction between the cow and her calf. Drive them a little ways and notice how they act towards each other in various circumstances.

It is very common practice to pair up cattle after driving cows and calves in big country. Even though the calf “met with its mother” on the drive, often it is disoriented when the herd gets to its destination and it will go back to where it nursed last. We were working with a ranch in New Mexico, driving about 700 head of cattle to their summer range. We went through several gates and had one particularly difficult creek to cross. It had very high banks and the trail down into it turned back and had a sharp slant to the bottom. They said the cows were no trouble, but the calves would miss the trail then run back and forth along the bank. They said it often took them an hour or more to get the calves across. We showed them how to start and drive the herd properly. When we got to the bad creek crossing the cows took their calves across with no problem. When we got to the area where they wanted to leave them, the owner left us and started pairing out the herd. I said “Bud, what is he doing?” Bud said “He’s making sure they are mothered up.” I said “I remember, we used to do that at Lone Pine, didn’t we?” About that time the owner came back and said “This is pretty foolish, they are already mothered up.”

This is kind of a long-winded reply but it explains why it is sometimes necessary to be able to know which calf belongs to which cow, but more importantly how important it is to learn how to move cattle long distances without mis-mothering them in the process.

Bud Williams Marketing and Stockmanship Schools Coming to Sharon Springs, KS

Posted January 3rd, 2015 — Filed in About Schools

Richard and Tina will be putting on a combination Marketing and Stockmanship school in Sharon Springs, KS, January 14-16, 2015. Read more about it here.

Visit their webpage at Hand ‘n Hand Livestock Solutions for more information about their schools.

Information From Our Videos

Posted December 5th, 2014 — Filed in Marketing, Stockmanship, Testimonials

From a friend in Iowa:    We have just recently gotten back into some calves and so far things are going well. We’ve been watching Yours and Buds video a lot lately and it never ceases to amaze us of the new things that we pick up on each time we watch the same video. Truly astounding that one can just over look things that they perceive as not pertaining to them. There is just so much information in there and each time we watch we are at a different level of learning and doing different things at the time. You both just keep on helping us, what awesome friends you have been.

I have often told people “You can watch our videos ten times and pick up new and valuable information each time you view them.”  Eunice – Springfield, MO

Dust and Exercise

Posted December 2nd, 2014 — Filed in Stockmanship

Question:    Here in SW Nebraska, we have had a very dry fall and winter so far coupled with some really warm days along with some wind.  This is not particularly unusual for us, but it does create a high level of health challenges in our feedlot setting.  On the one hand, the calves need to be exercised and worked with, but on the other hand the dust often just billows up around them.  On windy, low-humidity days, the whole yard can be quite dusty.  We often water down the pens for new incoming calves.  We see this as necessary but it is time-consuming and requires extra labor to get the job done (we are not equipped with big-guns and under-ground pressurized waterlines like some of the big yards). Putting down bedding or strawing the pens helps but doesn’t eliminate the whole problem, plus it does get expensive.  Those of you who have grass traps and grassy areas to exercise cattle have an advantage over those of us who don’t have that privilege.  So far, we just do the best we can with what we have to work with.  Any advice other than changing locations?

Answer:    I’ve heard Bud discuss this many times and he always figured the mental and physical benefits that “correctly exercising” the cattle outweighed the negative of inhaling the dust. In fact, getting them moving encourages coughing which helps to clear the lungs.

Bud Williams Marketing and Stockmanship Schools coming to Saskatchewan

Posted November 4th, 2014 — Filed in Calendar

Richard and Tina will be putting on two combination Marketing and Stockmanship schools in Saskatchewan: Yorkton, SK, December 2-4 and in Swift Current, SK, December 8-10, 2014. Click a “city, date” link in the previous sentence to learn more about each school and for registration information.

Visit their webpage at Hand ‘n Hand Livestock Solutions for more information about their schools.

Stockmanship Testimonial

Posted November 2nd, 2014 — Filed in Testimonials

I went to one of your schools several years back and it made such a huge difference.   Since going to your school the pull rates on my operation have dropped tremendously.  I have also been able to handle and do things with stockers on pasture that others didn’t think was possible.   I thumb back through my notes from time to time and find nuggets of information that have flown the coop, so to speak.  So with this video as a continuing learning tool I know I can continue to improve.
I was really delighted to see you join the Pharo discussion group.  I really enjoy your insight.

More on Placing Livestock

Posted November 2nd, 2014 — Filed in Stockmanship

I have come to the conclusion that most livestock don’t feel safe in their home pastures, no matter where they live, which is why, when Bud moved them,they were convinced that the place he left them was safe and the place they wanted to be.  The increase in production and the decrease in illness bolsters my feelings on this.  The fact that it makes the stock easier to handle and utilize your pastures better is frosting on the cake.  Bud felt that the modern way of moving animals with feed has created neurotic cows that instead of the cow taking stress off of her calf, actually  puts stress on it.  In our early ranching days you NEVER had a sick calf while it was on the cow.  Even those old wild cows that were gathered rough, handled rough in the corral and were turned back out would take their calves back home and show her calf that she was able to get her baby away from the bad situation and that they didn’t have anything more to worry about.

Many times we have left cattle and sheep (and reindeer) on a part of the pasture with rank grass where they walked over lush grass to go to water but would still go back to the area where Bud left them, or be content to stay in a pen out in the hot sun with the gate open for 3-hours before finally drifting out.  Some of these instances are on our website  Click on the “Herding” button.   When we were in Canada we were involved with a cow herd that summered in the “bush” in Northern Alberta.  The cattle up there want to come home to the hay in the corral at the first frost.  The area where we had our cattle was a path for about 20,000 head on their way home.   The guy we were working for wanted to keep his cattle there for another month so we saved a fenced pasture in the area to put his cattle in in the fall.  The only problem was it was a very dry year and all of the water in that pasture had dried up.  These were cattle that Bud and I had taken care of all summer.  We would drive them to a new area a couple of times a week and they always stayed together.  Anyway, when the neighbors cattle started their migration, we placed our cattle in the saved pasture, but had to leave the gate open so they could water at a little lake about a half mile from the pasture where we left them.  When it was time to take these cattle home they were still going back to the pasture where we left them.  Not one picked up with the cattle migrating to their home corrals, even though every other year they had always came home with the other cattle.

Rushing to Feed

Posted October 31st, 2014 — Filed in Stockmanship

Rushing to feed is mainly just a bad habit that should not be tolerated since this keeps the cattle stressed and focusing on when someone is going to change paddocks instead of grazing right up to the moment you tell them to move.  This also encourages the cow to forget about her calf.  Most people can correct this behavior in three or four pasture moves.  When  the cattle come to the gate too fast, or come to the gate without their calf with them, leave the gate closed and drive them away.  You don’t have to take them very far, just until they relax, then go back to the gate and try again.  The first time will probably take you a half hour or so, but by the third or fourth move when you change paddocks they will first go get their calf, then quietly walk through the gate and start grazing immediately instead of rushing to another part of the pasture. —- Eunice

Can you explain “drive them away”?  I’m thinking this is more of a side to side movement than a “driving cattle” as is conventionally understood? —- T.D.

Yes, move towards the cows in a zig-zag pattern. You must get closer each pass, even if it’s only six inches or so.  It does more harm than good to go back and forth in the same spot.  It is important to watch the movement of the cattle you are influencing.  As you walk to the right you will tend to turn the animal to the left.  As soon as you see this happening you must turn back to straighten it out.  Don’t try to go from one side of the herd to the other, just work back and forth about 4 or 5 steps each way until you get some straight movement going away, then you can widen out the area you are working to feed other cattle to this movement.  Moving back and forth puts a lot of pressure on animals to move away, but it is totally non-threatening so they are willing to turn their back to you to move off.   This is a pretty big subject to try to answer in an e-mail.  The $125 Stockmanship DVD set we sell explains it very well with diagrams and video.

Bud often said if he had a choice of either teaching a person the mechanics of how he works livestock, or convince them that it could be done, they would be better off if they believed it could be done – they would be able to figure out a way to do it. —- Eunice

Warm Season Grass Pasture Walk

Posted June 23rd, 2014 — Filed in Miscellaneous

Warm Season Grass Pasture Walk                            June 28, 2014     3 p.m.-8 p.m.
Join us for a pasture walk at the Hamilton Ranch in south-central Missouri.  We will see not only warm season grasses, but our project of establishing 100+ native species for grazing.  This is our first year of really grazing this diverse native planting since establishment, but we are excited about it and think that it can be better for grazing (some research we have read suggests 230% more production from diversity than the biomass king, switchgrass) and also better for wildlife (a different research project that has one year of research behind it suggests that controlled grazing of diverse natives can be better for quail than the best management that we knew how to do before).  We are also excited about the prospects of soil health with this project. 
If you plan to come, let us know so that we know how much food we need for supper.  Don’t follow computer or GPS derived direction to our place; rather get directions from our website
Loren Steele
Hamilton Native Outpost
16786 Brown Rd.
Elk Creek, MO  65464
P: 417-967-2190    F: 417-967-5934

Correspondence about Starting a Colt DVD

Posted June 13th, 2014 — Filed in Horses, Testimonials


Question:     Could you give me a brief outline of the colt starting method Mr. Williams used? I am interested in possibly purchasing the DVD. . . .

Answer:     I don’t know just how to go about telling you about the video of Bud starting a colt except to say that you don’t have to be a “Cowboy” to be able to do it.  It does not require a round pen or any of the other things that are used today.  People were always wanting to watch Bud start a colt, but they quickly became bored because the horse never bucked and within 20-30 minutes Bud was riding it out of the corral and up the mountain.  About the only equipment you will need, other than your usual tack is a pair of strap-hobbles.  In the video Bud says that you don’t really need them but it certainly makes things easier and it’s always been our contention that a hobble-broke horse is much safer to ride.  I’ve been on a couple of pretty wild rides when an old, gentle horse tangled his feet in old wire, where a hobble-broke horse would have just stood and waited for you to get him out of it.  This is also true if your horse tangles himself in the fence in his pasture.  Please go to our website and read the January 21, 2014 posting.  I wrote quite a long response to go with a comment from a man in Australia.  Also, read the February 1 posting.

Comment:     I think I have seen, seen used, or used myself about every method of starting a horse possible. But my curiosity has gotten the best of me over the last month so I had to order the DVD to see this way.

Question:     I got the videos today. I was wrong about having seen it all. The videos were great. I have a question. To put hobbles on a wild horse I currently use a blindfold under a warbridle. Do you know of a better way?


Answer:     Bud never had any problem with a wild horse after he got a halter on it.   We never had a chute to put a horse in and occasionally he had to choke it down to get the halter on, but then he just worked to halter break the horse before going on to hobbling it and riding it, which shouldn’t take very long.  Maybe I should have gone into a little detail about halter breaking horses or cattle.  Here is a short post from our website about this.

  “First and foremost, DO NOT tie the animal to anything solid until you have it leading well. All this teaches him is that he can’t move, and it makes it very difficult to actually teach it to lead.
      Put the animal in a small pen.  Have a halter and lead rope on him. The lead rope should be long enough that by standing in the center of the pen, you can hold on to it with no pressure on the halter from any place the animal might go.
     You will be in the middle of the pen. If the animal is spooky, just let him move around you until he settles down. Don’t hold any pressure on the rope at all. When he settles down a little, just pull (never jerk) his head towards you, then give him slack. By pulling from the side you can “un-track” (make him take a step towards you to keep his balance) an awfully large animal.
     Never pull from directly in front, as you will only teach him that you aren’t strong enough to move him.
     Never pull from behind as you will teach him that you aren’t strong enough to stop him.
     Always give slack when he takes a step. Do not pull unless you are at the side and KNOW that you can make him take a step. Walk back and forth and all around, making him take a step towards you every time you are in the correct position to do so.
     Even after the animal is well halter broke, always start leading him by pulling to the side to get him to take his first step.”

This is something the colt will need to learn anyway.  I don’t remember it ever taking over a half-hour or so of working the colt like this before he could put the hobbles on.


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