Mastitis in Saskatchewan Dairy

Posted September 21st, 2016 — Filed in Stockmanship, Testimonials

As fall approaches and summer is ending this means the end of field work and more time to spend in the barns working with cattle. However until this point it has been a 6 week rat race of silaging, baling and hauling manure. Therefore the cows had been virtually left to fend for themselves on auto-pilot.

Last Wednesday I got back from a trip to Alberta, to our farm and started in the barn at 5am for morning chores. Where I found on our robotic dairy reports that 19 Cows either had mastitis or had a very good chance of contracting it, based off of their Somatic Cell Count (SCC) reports. With further investigation I found that 9 of these animals were showing physical signs of mastitis. When I asked dad about what was going on, he just shook his head and said that none of the cows were responding to treatments anymore and that he had basically given up on the situation.

I could obviously see the frustration and fatigue that my dad and the hired hand had, who had been in the barns for the last 6 weeks without reprieve. As fate would have it, on the way home from the previous trip I had the opportunity to talk to Eunice. We talked about a different subject all together than this, however there was one comment that stuck in my mind. We were discussing how sensitive animals were to our thoughts, mind sets, attitudes etc. And Eunice laid it out in about as black and white terms as I had ever heard it explained. She said, “Paul, of course they can read our minds, otherwise they’d all be dead.” Of course meaning if prey animals couldn’t tell what their predators were thinking. But that is everything right there in that statement. That’s how susceptible and sensitive they are to us.

Needless to say I gave the hired man the rest of the week off and sent mom and dad on a weekend vacation. I then did nothing else but go about my chores and picked one quality I liked about ever cow I came in contact with, while handling her or even while simply scraping stalls.

When dad and the hired man showed back up Monday our SCC report for the herd showed 2 cows with a low conductivity reading indicating a mild chance of contracting mastitis. These two animals were in fact the two cows with the worst physical symptoms 5 days earlier. I should also mention none of the 19 were treated with any medication, it was just a shift in mind sets and the best handling I knew how to apply.

Mastitis is just an infection and a healthy animal in a good environment should be able to fight that off on her own. But with the stress, fatigue and I’m sure, not the most proper handling that was been done by us the humans, before the time off, the cows simply couldn’t do it. I just tried to give them the opportunity. Many Thanks to Eunice!!

Getting Out of My Own Way

Posted September 13th, 2016 — Filed in Testimonials

My wife and I got into the cattle business about 6 years ago, more for the marketing and not so much the stockmanship at the time. Now it is for both. It is amazing how well both go hand in hand. It is incredible how much we have learned and continue to learn each day. Right when you think you have things figured out you find out you haven’t even scratched the surface. We learn stuff every day. We bought the low stress handling and livestock marketing methods hard drive a few years back. We have both watched it several times and as we do quite a bit of driving at times, we thought if we could just listen to it while driving it would be very helpful. So I plugged it into the USB media/player in my truck and much to my delight, there is about 2 hours of it that you can listen to. Now, I have probably listened to those same 2 hours over 15 times. Every time, and I do mean every time, we have each picked up on some thing new. It might not necessarily be the same things at the same time, which is also interesting, but that is another story.

Now, on to one of our learning experiences that happened this spring. I had a gentleman approach me about putting 100 head or so in our feed yard. He operates a feed yard and needed some extra space. With the way things were going, he didn’t want to turn any business away because he usually gets a little slower in the summer months. He hoped by doing this he would stay fuller for the slow times. I told him I wasn’t as interested in just dry lotting them, but I would like to experiment with some grass feeding and supplement feeding them. I didn’t have enough cattle for the amount of grass that I have, especially in the spring flush. I told him that I would monitor their weights fairly closely for him. So 100 head turned into 200 head fairly quickly. In early April 2016, we received the first 200 head, and weighed them 1 mile from the house on the truck as they came in. They only traveled 10 miles so that was no big deal. Upon arrival they were 5 & 6 weights. We worked with them and settled them down fairly good. Once again we got our stockmanship video out to brush up, wanting to do things especially right as they were not our calves. Right away he didn’t want me to turn them out. He was afraid they would run right through my fences. We worked with them, and after two days we put them out on grass for a short period of time at first. Each day we would bring them in and supplement feed them. We left them out more and more each day bringing them in each evening as he requested.

He told me he was hoping to put 1.8lbs on them a day. He was bringing his ration over in a semi belt truck and I was supplement feeding them from that mix. I assured him that I would weigh them so that he knew if something was going wrong with them. He said that his hired man would do the doctoring and he would pay for all the medicine. I told him that as long as I could do what I wanted with the cattle and was able to experiment, I would do it his way. I would do the first group of 100 and go from there to work out a price for my grass and that I would be more than fair because it was my experiment on his cattle.

During all this my scale broke so I could no longer weigh them at the yard, but the calves looked good and were feeling good except for one, so I wasn’t too worried. I had the one that was a little sick, so they came and doctored him, I told him that he had a little fever and that he was fine. I did not agree with their method of doctoring, which looking back was probably a double negative; the calf probably never had a chance with both of our attitudes. He ended up dying.

The hired man came and told me there was another one sick and that he needed to doctor it, I didn’t agree with him but he said his boss would get mad if it didn’t get it doctored. I told him that I would talk to his boss and that he had nothing to worry about. I called the boss and told him that if his steer died I would replace it and that every thing was fine. My wife did not like that we were guaranteeing this steer. The Boss eventually said that he didn’t know how he could loose on the guaranteed deal so that worked for him. We made sure that the calves were up and moving several times a day and that the steer wasn’t getting any worse. He was sick for a few days but held his own. Slowly he just started getting better. The hired man kept trying to tell me that he was sick. I told him that I was going to pull his tag out of his ear so that he didn’t know which one it was. I also told him to stop looking him sick cause he was going to make him sicker. The tag made it to easy for him to point him out. The calf eventually recovered, my wife was happy, the boss was happy and I was thrilled.

Any way, they were still nervous so they kept checking on me daily, which was fine. I was watching the calves and they looked and felt like a million dollars. They would buck and play and were happy calves. I had both groups out by now and leaving them out most of the day. Moving them around, changing pens and listening to Bud & Eunice’s tapes for extra support. One of the things that Bud says over and over in the videos is to get the calves up and move them 4 or 5 times a day, hoping that we will do it 2 or 3 times a day at least. This is one of the reasons that I think they gained so good and stayed so healthy. Just like Bud says each time you get them up, they eat, poop and move around. I would go check them in the heat of the day, bump them up and they would go to eating. Some times I would move them, some times I would just bump them up, the end result was that they would start eating.

Later on I had about 100 head that bedded down in the middle of a pasture about 2 pm in the afternoon on a hill top, the feedlot boss wanted to look at them and I told him to just drive over there in the middle of them. He said he didn’t want to disturb them or make them run off. I said just drive over there and look at them, and they will just get up and start eating. His feed guy was with us and we drove over in the truck and sat in the middle of them. The feed guy was saying that you need to get them up in the feed yards and that they are claiming that the calves are healthier. Its part of the “low stress stockmanship”. I didn’t say any thing just kind of smiled and looked at them. Then they started in on how they didn’t have enough time in the day to do all that. Then I couldn’t help myself. I said well, how much time did that take, what 2 minutes and they jumped up and started eating and I left it at that.

A couple of weeks later, I told him that I had cut back on his supplement feed because the calves were leaving too much left over and didn’t want to eat it. There was better feed in the field. He was a little concerned, so I told him to come on over get in the truck and we would go look at them. If he saw some thing he wanted to change we would change it. He couldn’t see where they needed any more feed and I was telling him that if I feed them more they just nibbled and picked around and didn’t clean it up. He was worried that they were not gaining like he needed them to but they looked great. I also told him that a muscled up healthy calf hides his weight more than one just sitting around, in my opinion. He just kind of shook his head. I told him that Bud told me that the conversion rate on a healthy active calf was as good as you can get, as far as the amount of feed to weight gained ratio. He told me he didn’t know if he agreed with that, but he didn’t think it hurt them by any means. Whatever we were doing seemed to be working alright.

We were sitting in the truck and my wife and daughter were bringing the calves down off a big hill into the feedlot, we did this cause it made him happy to have them penned up over night. I told him that I probably should not let him watch the girls bring them in cause they were going to come off that hill bucking and jumping and running 100 miles an hour. Sure enough they did. He just shook his head while watching them come down the hill.

To make a long story short, by doing what Bud & Eunice taught us to do, and listening to the DVD, we had weight gains on one group of 2.9 lbs per day and 3.1 lbs per day on the second group for 60 days in the spring in Iowa. I’m sure this is not unheard for good grass in the spring, I would go for times when I didn’t supplement them at all. We ended up doing close to 400 head, and he let me do what ever I wanted to do. The lowest gaining group was heifers at 2.7 lbs per day and that took us through July. He sold them all right around 900lbs and said that he had done better with those than any other pen of calves that he had. They were shocked that we could drive right through the middle of them and leave gates open and every thing else. It just blew their mind how easy they were to work with. We are sure that we didn’t do every thing right but by messing with them 2 or 3 times a day and bumping them up all the right things we did definitely out WEIGHED the wrong. Bud once made a comment about, As long as you were doing some thing even if it was wrong, it was better than not doing any thing at all. How else can you learn? Boy how right he is once again.

In the last load of heifers they brought, there was about 75 of them and the hired guy told me, well, we will see if you can calm these down like you did all the rest of them and then he laughed. They ended up just like all the rest, easy to work with, nice handling calves.

In one of the first groups that they took back home, they had one get out through the bunk. They walked it back in and asked us if we had a pet because of how easy it was to walk right back into the pen. I told them we didn’t have any pets and that they should be able to walk any of them right back in. Granted that this is coming from the same guy that five years ago ran one heifer through or over four fences. Boy, how things have changed. I still haven’t scratched the surface, I am still learning.

Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot from the gentlemen that has the feed yard, but he also knows who Bud & Eunice Williams are and what they are all about. We are now good friends who enjoy each others company and enjoy learning from each other.

Wally Olson Marketing School

Posted August 29th, 2016 — Filed in Calendar

Click here for a flyer for Wally Olson’s Marketing School coming up in Vinita, OK, September 25-28.

Great Article About Stockmanship!

Posted August 10th, 2016 — Filed in Stockmanship

After Richard and Tina put on a two-day Proper Stockmanship School in Red Deer, Alberta, one of the attendees wrote this very good article about what they taught:

Proper stockmanship, the Bud Williams’ way

Stockmanship Learning Curve

Posted April 8th, 2016 — Filed in Stockmanship

I’m pasting below a story that I received from the wife of a ranching couple who took one of my beginning stockmanship clinics. They both really bought into it and tried hard to implement what they learned, and they had many successes. Then the wheels fell off. This is their story and how they remedied it. I think it’s very illustrative of what probably happens to a lot of people, and the readers of the subscription site might be interested in it. Your call.

Whit Hibbard – Stockmanship Journal

A couple weeks after you were here, we had the vet booked to preg check a large bunch of our cows in the afternoon. We thought it would be a great idea to ride out in the morning and get them in early so we could do a dry run through the chute before the vet showed up.  We were feeling pretty confident since everything had been going so swimmingly with all our new found low-stress skills.  All we needed to do was gather them from the pasture they were in, bring them through one gate, and travel another two-hundred yards into the corral. Simple right?

Well, things were a little rocky from the start. The cows just didn’t seem to want to line out. It was a bit frustrating, but we kept our cool (for the most part), eventually got them through the gate and we thought we were golden. Just a short distance to the corral! However, the cows had other plans. As soon as they got through the gate all the cows wanted to do was head west, away from the corral, or stop completely and graze. We either had a lot of movement going the wrong direction, or no movement at all and Nathan and I were getting spread thin. This went on for a long time with us getting nowhere until I finally lost it. I rode back to our house (which is close by if you recall), tied my horse to a fence post, and hopped in our ATV. I needed something with a little more gas! I proceeded to, as Nathan described it later “mad max it around” (if you’ve seen the movie you will understand that reference). It felt great, at least for the short term. I hooped and hollered and nearly ran cows over. It wasn’t pretty, but I lined those bitches out! We finally made it to the corrals. Five minutes later the vet showed up. We got through the rest of the day but the cows really didn’t work so great. They were nervous and stressed. So were we. To be honest the cows were probably behaving about how they normally do when we preg check, but this time it just seemed like a personal defeat.  We had such high hopes for something better. We ended the day feeling deflated. Why hadn’t our new tools worked? Nathan and I mulled it over throughout the evening. It really bothered us.

We had plans to move them back up to their fall mountain pasture the next morning, which is what is done every year after we preg check. It marks the end of our fall cow work. However, both of us decided we could not leave things like this. So, instead, the next morning we got up and did it all over again. However this time, we kept our heads, didn’t freak out when things weren’t working, paid attention to what the cows were telling us, and adjusted our movements and actions accordingly. We made sure to get the cows moving together smoothly and cohesively before we went through the gate, so when we did finally go through it, we had them working for us before we even got to the corral. It felt good and we are so glad we took the extra day to make the situation right.

Long story short, I can understand why people resort back to what they know and are comfortable with. When you get excited about something new, and then you perceive it to have failed you, it feels so much worse than if you never had the high expectations to begin with. I do not think low-stress handling failed us. I think that day was a combination of us not reading the situation correctly and adjusting our strategy appropriately, and the cows being used to a different way of being handled for many years. Just like with a horse, they need to be retrained, and so do we. Although it sucked, we probably learned more from that failure than all the successes we’ve had. I don’t know how to get that point across in your clinic, but I’m willing to bet that’s why a lot of people don’t stick with it.

Bud Box Question from South Africa

Posted April 5th, 2016 — Filed in Stockmanship

I have 2 questions regarding the Bud box.

1. The first relates to cattle. I have an existing squeeze chute next to a wool shed wall. I want to add a Bud box to it. Because of the layout I cannot make the “Bud Box” in such a way that the cattle go past the chute gate. They will however enter right next to it. The attached sketch will show the layout. Do you think it would still work?

2. The next question relates to sheep. Will a “Bud box” work for sheep also (to fill a squeeze chute) and if so what would typical dimensions be?

…. South Africa

Answer:    The Bud Box is actually a philosophy more than a pen of certain dimensions.  If it is built like Bud suggested, (12-14 feet wide, 20-30 feet long with gates in the proper places) it pretty well forces a person to be in the right place.  I’ve watched many U-Tube videos of people using a Bud Box and I’ve never seen it actually worked properly.  The person bringing the stock in must pause to shut the gate, then they start down the side to get behind the stock, but before they can get too far out of position, the animals have already started to go past them and into the single-file chute.  You can use the same principals with a pen of any configuration.  So-  Yes, I think the sketch you sent will work OK.  As you enter the pen with the livestock you should lightly pressure them against the 12’ wide dead-end.  Your position will be very near the opening to the single file chute.  Most people don’t have any problem getting livestock they are driving, to try to “cut back.”  This is what you are doing when you pressure them where there is no place they can go.  When they “cut back” they want to keep their eye on you so your position at the entrance to the chute will cause them to want to go up the chute.  (See my July 14, 2010 posting)

Even if you were using a typical crowd pen where the animals come in one end and the opening to the single-file chute is at the other, you can still use the “Bud Box” principals.  We have worked lots of cattle and sheep in this type of pen.  When bringing them in, we give them a chance to go straight ahead into the chute, but if they hesitate we let them go back by us, see that the gate they came in is no longer open, then pressure them against that gate.  At this point you work it just like a proper Bud Box.  This works very well, it just takes this one extra step to get in the right position.

Sheep work great using the Bud Box principals.  Dimensions will depend on the size of the flock.  The only thing that would need to be different is the width of the single-file chute.

Two New Schools Confirmed

Posted March 16th, 2016 — Filed in Calendar

We have two schools confirmed and several more very close to being set up for the summer of 2016!

First we will put on a Two Day Proper Stockmanship School in Dickinson, ND May 25-26, 2016. Read more here:

Next we will travel to Wawota, SK (SE Saskatchewan) for a Three Day Marketing and Stockmanship School May 30-June 1, 2016. Read more here:

We are putting the final plans on two, Two Day Stockmanship Schools in Alberta the week of June 13-17, a Three Day Marketing and Stockmanship School in NE Wyoming in early August, and a Four Day Marketing and Stockmanship School in Exira, IA, September 12-15.

Let us know if you have any questions about any of our schools or if you’d like us to bring a school to your area!

Richard and Tina
Hand ‘n Hand Livestock Solutions

Wanted to Lease

Posted February 11th, 2016 — Filed in Miscellaneous

A Christian family committed to sustainable farming/grazing practices is looking for 80-plus acres with a farmhouse in Southwest Missouri.

Long term lease desired.
Willing to make improvements.
Grazeable acreage and access to water important.

Will Hedquist
417-5443-5223 or 417-924-2246

Riders “Flanking” the Leaders

Posted January 15th, 2016 — Filed in Stockmanship

Question:      Eunice, Tina, and Richard,
Each winter we move our herd of about 275 cows, heifers, and replacements, frequently, in one mob, several miles from one crop residue field to another. How do we keep the leaders, and thus the entire herd, on the road or on a good path across and open field. What frequently happens is that our riders or atv riders ride up upon the leaders to keep on the path, which causes the leaders and then the entire herd to slow down, stop and mill aound. This is accompanied by lots of shouting and arm waving. We should and could do better. What say you?

Answer:  I don’t have you in my database, but since you mentioned Tina and Richard I assume you have been to one of their schools. This is too broad a question to answer in an e-mail unless you have had some exposer to Bud’s methods. I would feel more comfortable answering if you had been to one of Bud’s schools or have watched either of the videos I sell on Stockmanship, but here goes …

You should not open the gate from the old pasture until you have gathered the cattle properly and they were acting “right.” If they come to the gate agitated and not mothered up you should drive them around the pasture until they are working for you. Then open the gate. If some of the cattle are liable to go too fast you can put a person in the lead to adjust their speed
(See the September 27th, 2015 posting on our website “Checking up the Herd.”) This might be a good idea anyway to help set the direction. The cattle should be driven by going back and forth IN STRAIGHT LINES behind the herd, adjusting the angle to get the proper direction. No one should be on the side of the herd.



Stockmanship and Marketing Schools Upcoming

Posted January 12th, 2016 — Filed in Calendar

Richard and Tina of Hand ‘n Hand Livestock Solutions have two schools coming up:

Read more on their newly re-designed website here.

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