Proper Stockmanship Training Saves Cattle from a Range Fire

Posted October 15th, 2017 — Filed in Stockmanship, Testimonials

A friend just forwarded this to me. . .

I just wanted to write you and let you know that I used LSLH [low stress livestock handling] for an application that you may never have thought about before.  On June 27th we had a lightening strike start our range land on fire.  The fire was moving fast but there was a paved road between the fire and the range ground where my cattle were so everyone thought they were safe.  Due to some crazy circumstances, the fire jumped the road and started roaring through where my cattle were.

I have to take one step back before I finish the story.  After I got back from the Republic workshop I hadn’t been crazy about how I had done, so I decided to double down my efforts.  I already handle my cattle a lot but at the workshop I identified some skills I was really lacking.  When I got back home I took my cattle somewhere every day and even if I just took them in a big loop, when I got them back home, I settled them.  By the way, when you start getting the hang of settling cattle, it feels pretty magical!  I have to admit, it still felt silly taking my cows “for a spin” but they seemed fine with it.

Fast forward back to the fire jumping the road:  I didn’t have time to saddle a horse, so I jumped on an ATV with my Border Collie and raced down the road to where the cows were.  First off, they were all within sight range of each other because I have been working with them to stay together. I don’t mean to anthropomorphize, but they seemed glad to see me, like “Oh good, she’s here to tell us what to do.”  I used the dog but I had good motion from the start, they mothered up, and went head to tail at a steady pace.  That good motion drew the few outliers in and they just fell into place.  They were quiet, there was no bawling, and they just moved calmly in the direction I asked them to.  In fact, the flames were coming so fast that I actually had to pick them up into a jog.  But even then, they just did a steady jog, no one ran.  I think about it so much, it seemed so amazing!  I took them two miles to an irrigated field where I placed and settled them.  The flames roared around the field (see picture) but they calmly stayed in the field.  I just want you to know that I feel like you (and Bud Williams) are the reason my cows are alive today.  It would have torn me up in so many ways if my cows had burned up–I can’t hardly stand thinking about it.  They were in 1,000 acres, so if they had been spread out I would have lost cattle. Also, if we hadn’t practiced going places beforehand I’m certain I wouldn’t have saved them all.  Thank you so much for what you do!!!!!  Gosh, I just can’t thank you enough!