I have come to the conclusion that most livestock don’t feel safe in their home pastures, no matter where they live, which is why, when Bud moved them,they were convinced that the place he left them was safe and the place they wanted to be. The increase in production and the decrease in illness bolsters my feelings on this. The fact that it makes the stock easier to handle and utilize your pastures better is frosting on the cake. Bud felt that the modern way of moving animals with feed has created neurotic cows that instead of the cow taking stress off of her calf, actually puts stress on it. In our early ranching days you NEVER had a sick calf while it was on the cow. Even those old wild cows that were gathered rough, handled rough in the corral and were turned back out would take their calves back home and show her calf that she was able to get her baby away from the bad situation and that they didn’t have anything more to worry about.
Many times we have left cattle and sheep (and reindeer) on a part of the pasture with rank grass where they walked over lush grass to go to water but would still go back to the area where Bud left them, or be content to stay in a pen out in the hot sun with the gate open for 3-hours before finally drifting out. Some of these instances are on our website www.stockmanship.com. Click on the “Herding” button. When we were in Canada we were involved with a cow herd that summered in the “bush” in Northern Alberta. The cattle up there want to come home to the hay in the corral at the first frost. The area where we had our cattle was a path for about 20,000 head on their way home. The guy we were working for wanted to keep his cattle there for another month so we saved a fenced pasture in the area to put his cattle in in the fall. The only problem was it was a very dry year and all of the water in that pasture had dried up. These were cattle that Bud and I had taken care of all summer. We would drive them to a new area a couple of times a week and they always stayed together. Anyway, when the neighbors cattle started their migration, we placed our cattle in the saved pasture, but had to leave the gate open so they could water at a little lake about a half mile from the pasture where we left them. When it was time to take these cattle home they were still going back to the pasture where we left them. Not one picked up with the cattle migrating to their home corrals, even though every other year they had always came home with the other cattle.