Mixing Groups of Heifers

Posted April 24th, 2014 — Filed in Stockmanship

Question: . . . . We have three pens of calves, 100 head, any where from 450-600 lb. heifers. We have had them all about the same length of time 3-4 weeks. We have taken them for a couple walks in the 115 acre pasture. The question is, can we combine all the calves and take them all for a walk at the same time and then randomly divide them back into 3 pens? I heard some where they may develope pen mates? Is there any truth to that? Is there any harm in doing that? Would you guys ever do that?
Answer:    The calves will definitely have pen mates.  This is one of the reasons Bud was against having a sick  pen because a sick calf certainly didn’t need the upheaval of being pulled away from his friends and put in with strangers.  As far as asking if this will hurt healthy calves, I doubt if it will.  Especially, if by doing it this way you will take them for a walk more often.   If they are working well for you when you bring them back to the pens, they will probably stick together and end up in the same pen anyway.

“Settling” a Saddle Horse

Posted April 14th, 2014 — Filed in Horses, Stockmanship, Testimonials

Comment: . . . .   I had my best (but aged) saddle horse shipped here (2,000 mile trip with stays at new barns etc) and when he arrived he was in a real funk- he was listless, wondering around the pasture and not really recognizing me or my wife and not paying attention when I called him.  He was not really eating nor socializing properly with the other horses either.  I thought about his condition a little while and that I wanted to change it.  I have changed calves in a similar state many times but of course this is a horse.  Thinking back to the innumerable times I had to, when this low stress stuff was new to me,  think of cattle as horses, I decided to think of my horse as I do cattle then I could go to work.   I  put a rope on him, asked him to follow me, to turn left then right then backup then finally to stop and stand still. When his attention was more on me than his worries, I made him stand still (corrected him for wiggling etc) while he got a good brushing.  I curried him for some time as he needed it and then, after he was standing still on his own and calm,  let him go.  He immediately joined up with the other horses, stood calmly near them, hiked up a hind leg and was calm as could be.  Later he started grazing, but calmly now, not eating a bite then walking etc like before.   The next day he was still tired but acting again like a normal horse.  This experience made me think about proper handling-that it doesn’t just get the job done right, it doesn’t just produce great control- it really changes the animals in our charge.  I think the change that proper handling produces is deeper than I understand and maybe like (Tom Dorrance I think) said, deeper than we can understand.  If someone else out there has a horse shipped a long ways and it shows up stressed or if you work at a stable that receives horses, don’t just leave them alone, work them right. Now I have a happier horse, which makes a happier wife and thus a happier me, all just by taking his attention off his worries and troubles and on to me, then a pleasurable scratching and brushing.

Answer:    It’s amazing how working with Bud’s principals cause people to be more sensitive to everything and everybody around them.  It also teaches that you can do something about a problem even if you have no idea when you start.   One of Bud’s favorite comments was “Do something, even if it’s wrong!”