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
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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 fro 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.

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.

Eunice

 

Checking Up the Herd

Posted September 27th, 2015 — Filed in Stockmanship

Question:  Regarding the herd you told me about that just wants to take off on a high lope –

Answer:  The rider in the lead should not try to MAKE the cattle go slower. He is “JUST THERE.” He must stay in front even if he has to gallop his horse in order to do it. If you try to MAKE them slow down they will just split up, or at least they will want to. Like I’ve told you before, cattle have a one-track mind. It is important that you put them in a position where they can settle down mentally and make a rational decision. With the rider doing nothing distracting, but being JUST THERE the cattle have a chance to decide on their own (let, not make) that there is no reason to keep going. Soon they will stop, but be aware of the movement in the herd because they will likely start moving in another direction and you want to be in position to be in front of the movement.

We nearly always do this when we turn cattle out of a corral. We don’t want them to take off and think they “got away.” That is the kind of thing that often causes the kind of behavior in a herd like you mentioned.

This is different than “leading” a herd of normal cattle. You must still “stay in the lead no matter how fast” but you continually slow down and “test” the herd. You never move back and forth to block cattle from going past you, you do everything from in front by varying your speed. It is important that you have a horse that you can slow down without him swinging sideways. By working the bit with each stride you can teach your horse to keep the same rhythm while either shortening or lengthening his stride. The cattle should have the same view of his rump at all times. If you are coming to a cross-roads and the cattle are working well for you, you can slow up until they are really pushing you, then speed up and “suck” them right past. Cattle that leave the road are the responsibility of someone else. Your job is to get the cattle to follow you.

Stockmanship DVDs Invaluable

Posted August 8th, 2015 — Filed in Stockmanship, Testimonials

Awhile back I purchased your stockmanship DVD set and it has proven invaluable.  The Bud Box works just the way it’s shown on the video.  I am new into handling cattle, and I don’t thin I could have done it without you and Bud.  The young man I work with watched our cattle loaded when they were purchased, and he can’t believe how just the two of us are able to get them moved without a hotshot or paddle . . . . .

Kansas

Driving Cattle and Sheep in the Brush

Posted July 30th, 2015 — Filed in Stockmanship

Question:  Last year I took a course on low stress stockman ship from a mutual friend of ours: Tim Westfall. It was mostly theoretical, so I felt I needed an example, so I brought him along as I moved my flock of sheep and herd of cattle to the mountains. I’m in Baja California, Mexico; so most of our range is brush, thick chaparral. As we started moving my animals through the brush, I asked Tim what to do, so he mentioned moving in straight lines perpendicular to the movement of the herd. I remembered from the course he had given before all this techniques which worked great in open areas, but in mountainous brush country you can’t move in straight lines. I asked Tim what options did we have but he couldn’t help, he said it was very hard country. Then he said you might be the only person I could talk to, since you and Bud started out of the California brush. I hope you can give me some advice or refer me to someone with similar terrain.

Answer:   It is no different working livestock in the brush than it is in open country.  Your “straight lines” don’t have to be perfect, just don’t turn and follow behind the stock.  When gathering livestock in the brush with several people just have them ride across until they either don’t see any more animals or until they see the other person, then  ride back at an angle a hundred feet or so ahead.   From the start work at an angle that will aim the animals you are influencing toward the gate (or the way you want them to go), don’t try to bunch them up in rough country before you start driving them.  Don’t try to keep them out of the brush, just work at the proper angle to keep them  headed in the right direction.  When you drive stock this way, they won’t try to cut back.  We’d often have a pasture nearly gathered before we even saw any animals, though we could hear them moving out ahead of us.

You could probably learn a lot from Bud’s Stockmanship DVD set ($200 US funds).

Don’t hesitate to write again if you have a specific problem.

Eunice

Cattle Stall in the Chute

Posted July 22nd, 2015 — Filed in Stockmanship

This is part of a posting on another site I monitor along with my response. I thought it might be of interest to you folks.

“We are committed to low stress handling and have watched the Bud Williams stock handling videos and are trying to learn how to handle our animals correctly.

This weekend when we worked our cattle, we had some problems in the chute – a few of our yearling heifers would just stop and we couldn’t get them moving down the chute. Also, when we were done with them in the head catch, some would just stand there and not move out and wouldn’t budge … “

Here are a few more things to consider about your cattle stopping in the chute.
It is much better to bring each draft of cattle from a pen instead of from the alley since each time you go down to get more cattle you really jam the cattle before you finally get some to go by you. But even if you are taking them from the alley, try to have quite a distance to bring them to the Bud Box. Bring them at a trot. The movement you are creating is necessary for then to have the movement they need to go up the chute. Don’t bring any more cattle than will fill the single file chute. If you brought too many – open the gate and let the excess go back to the bunch. I’ve seen many videos of people working a Bud Box and very few do it correctly. Bud was amazed that the cattle worked as well as they did even when people got behind them and pushed them in. The proper way is to pressure them against the back of the pen. This causes them to want to break back (most people don’t have any problem getting cattle to break back when they are trying to drive them). Your position very near the opening to the single file chute will pull them around you because they want to be able to keep their eye on you as they go by. All of the people and activity must be on the “inside” of this circle. Don’t allow anyone to be on the other side of the single file chute. It’s probably a good idea to have a back-up gate to hold one animal next to the chute. Any more just interferes with the flow. As soon as this animal goes into the squeeze you can go back and move the others up, but other wise, don’t let anyone bother the cattle in the chute. It is important that the animal’s mind is wanting to go forward. This is what makes it easy to get movement into and out of the chute. If they are “forced in” their mind is wanting to go back even if you are able to make them go forward. I have videos of us putting cattle through the chute at the Canadian feedlot where we spent quite a lot of time. We were testing for export and they were gong though at the rate of over 100 per hour. The guy who was loading the Bud Box wasn’t paying attention on one draft and they started back out. He slammed the gate on about five of them and got them into the single file chute. They had to fight these five all the way to the squeeze and even had trouble getting them to leave the squeeze. As soon as these five went through and they started bringing the cattle properly the cattle resumed moving well.

Wild Horse Gather

Posted February 23rd, 2015 — Filed in Stockmanship

Hi Eunice,
I thought you’d be interested in the following email (pasted below) that I just received from the new wildlife biologist at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. He wants to stop using a helicopter to do periodic park-wide roundups of the wild horses for culling and only use low-stress livestock handling for more frequent culling of smaller bands. To that end he had me out to do an introductory clinic for he and his staff and they’ve taken it from there.

Whit Hibbard – Montana
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Hey Whit,
I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know that I captured a band of eight horses on February 13th using LSLH techniques on foot to herd them into our corral facilities. It was a great experience.

___________

Glad to hear that Bud’s teachings are spreading in the right direction. Bud & I worked with Whit at the Big-Bend National Park in 2007 to teach how to gather the trespass animals who crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico. Some people already seem to think that Bud didn’t use or approve the use of horses, which isn’t the case at all, so I’m going to comment on the fact that Whit’s friend gathered these horses on foot. By working on foot, a person isn’t tempted to try to out-run their mistakes which will only make matters worse. There is no reason you can’t do the same horse back or in a helicopter.

Eunice Williams – Missouri

Photos from Eureka, CA Marketing and Stockmanship School

Posted February 18th, 2015 — Filed in Calendar, Marketing, Stockmanship

Richard and I were so happy to have Mom join us for our recent trip to California to put on a Marketing and Stockmanship school in Eureka. Mom, Dad and I lived in that area for my life before I left for college, and it was great to visit some places we had lived and visit with folks we had known back then. Here are the two group pictures, and click here for more photos from the school and our trip.

–Tina Williams

Daily Reading

Posted February 3rd, 2015 — Filed in Stockmanship, Testimonials

From: Broken Horn Ranch Ministries Campbell
Date: January 27, 2015 at 10:19:48 PM CST
Subject: Daily Reading-1-28-15–Bud Williams

At the end of one school year, I asked my Animal Science class what their favorite lab was that semester.  We had preg checked cattle, learned how to artificially inseminate cattle, and handle straws.  We’d done DNA precipitation labs, dissected ruminant digestive systems, administered vaccinations, and wormed critters, as well.  We had done about 18 different labs, most of which included a trip somewhere or at least some good old fashioned hands-on learning (a hallmark of Agricultural Education, I might add).  Because of the nature of all of those labs, some of which made me realize why I had become a teacher, I had some expectations as to which ones might have been their favorites.

I was wrong.  Overwhelmingly, the students picked the lab where we learned how to move cattle using nothing but a read on what the animal was telling the student.  It was very simple, as a matter of fact.  I simply showed students how to move a steer around a pen at a walk, back up to a trot, back down to a walk, and then to a stop.  They then had to turn him and move him the other direction and do the same thing going that way.  The clincher was that they had to do it without saying a word or using any tools.  They had to use the animal’s actions and nothing more.  To finish their assessment, each student had to move two steers around the same pen, peel one off through a gate and keep the other one moving.  Most students mastered it, but not very many on the first try.

I think the reason those kids liked that lab was that it gave them a sense of accomplishment and understanding.  They could see the immediate reward of their learning in a way that made them feel a sense of communication with another living being.  More than just that, though, they achieved that without yelling, moving fast, or using tools.  They did it quietly and subtly, using intelligence and knowledge.

A lot of what I taught kids came third hand from Bud Williams, a stockman who truly lived low-stress livestock handling.  He never wanted his critters to look at him as a predator.  He simply wanted to take the stress off of an animal, read the animal, and get the animal to believe what Bud wanted was what she really wanted.  Gary Marshall was the first one who told me about Bud Williams, and I was a believer off the bat.  He’d gone to one of Bud’s clinics, and for a cowman who had been around cattle his whole life to sing an old man’s praises the way Gary did, Bud Williams must have truly had it figured out.

Keeping it simple seemed to be Bud Williams’ mantra.  Things shouldn’t take too long if you’re doing them right, and if you’re thinking the right way, the livestock will be plumb cooperative.  Are there those cows whose mothers are just stupid?  You bet, but for the most part, if cattle are simply respected and shown that the right way is the best way, they’ll generally go that route, and for Bud, that was what was most important.

Jesus treats us the same.  When we begin to think his way instead of our own, we begin to have life.  It isn’t always easy; as a matter of fact, it probably seldom is.  However, it’s good, and that’s way better than easy.  If we submit to Jesus, he can get one of us peeled off through a gate and the other one going on by without a stick, a paddle, a fit, or anything else.  That’s way better than the alternative.

Jesus loves us, and he wants to work in harmony with us, not against us.  Proverbs 3 tells us, “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your path.”  If we just follow him, Jesus will direct us down the right trail.  If we fail to acknowledge God and his role in our lives, the wreck is on.  He knows how to guide us, but we’ve still got to listen.  We don’t want to be like the cow whose mother is stupid.  She’s going to town, and that ain’t necessarily a good thing.  Trust God, and follow him.  It will all fall into place after that.

God Bless,

 

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