Posted July 13th, 2009 — Filed in Herding
To answer your questions:
First, I want to tell you that it is possible to place livestock in an area and have them stay there. They will even go out for water and return to the area on their own. I have done this with cattle, sheep and reindeer. The key to getting this kind of behavior is in the way you handle and drive the livestock. The video tells you how to do this. Sorry to say there are no shortcuts. You can’t decide to use parts of what I do and still get the results I do.
We worked with a couple of ranches in Texas. One runs cattle and sheep, the other just cattle. They both use a rotational pasture system. When we first arrived, the livestock would be spread out over most of the paddock. The country is quite rough and brushy, and the paddocks are large. The stock numbers and paddock sizes are similar to yours (1000 acre paddocks, 6-800 head of cattle). Just in the ordinary ranch work and scheduled moves, the stock became a “herd.” When you found one, you found them all. If there was an area the stock didn’t graze properly, we could put them there and know they would stay. On the next rotation they would go there on their own. One of the ranches has since removed many of the fences. The owner said he feels the cowboy’s time is better spent with the livestock instead of working on the fences.
If you move your cattle by calling and want to do it FAST, you will have trouble getting them to stay where you want. Also, you pay quite a price in production because of the stress. We drive our animals to make the moves until they move quietly and with their calves or lambs. Only then do we call them. If they start acting anxious by running and leaving their babies, we will go back to driving them. I think you will find that your cattle and sheep will get to where they are so easy to gather and drive that it is much faster than moving them by calling, then having to go back and pick up the tail-enders. I can guarantee it is less stressful to the animals.
If you are truly interested, I’d like to suggest you attend one of my Stockmanship Schools. The only way I know how to teach my methods is by talking, answering questions, diagramming on a black board and by using videos. We have some excellent video that teaches even better than working with live animals. If you “missed the point,” we can replay it until everyone understands.
I wish I was a good enough writer to be able to put on paper exactly how to do these things. I’ll be glad to answer specific questions once you start trying to use my methods.