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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

Cattle Handling Part 1 Basic Cattle Handling

Cattle Handling Part 1 Basic Cattle Handling

Cattle Handling Part 1: Basic Cattle Handling

by Heather Smith Thomas of Salmon, ID

The key to handling cattle with the least problems is to train them to the way you need to work with them, such as being easy to handle on foot. Acquaint them with new procedures gradually, in a non-confrontational manner (just like training a horse). Introduce a new experience slowly. Put them in the corral a few times, or into the chute, without doing something unpleasant to them. If their first experience in a chute is painful (vaccination, dehorning) they may balk at going in there the next time. Walk them through a chute calmly, before they have to go in it for a painful procedure. If you live in a climate where you might have to put a cow in the barn to calve, gently herd your heifers into the barn (using a calm older cow to give them confidence and a feeling of security) or lure them in with feed, before you have to put one in there when she’s in labor for the first time and nervous and upset. Spend time walking quietly among your cattle in their pen or pasture when they are young, to get them used to people in general and to you in particular.

Cattle Handling Part 1 Basic Cattle Handling

Moving and herding cattle: The easiest way to move cattle — from pasture to pasture, into the corral, or down the road to another farm — is to lead them rather than drive them. Cattle that trust you will come when you call, and follow you anywhere. They know from proper training and past experience that every time you call them you’ll feed them or take them to a new pasture. If they are rewarded with a bit of feed, they are always easy to move. Even if you are taking them into the corral, a few flakes of good hay can be their reward for willingly following when you call.

If you’re moving untrained cattle and have to herd them rather than lead them, do it quietly and with patience and they won’t get excited and try to run off. If cattle become alarmed they are much harder to handle because they instinctively start thinking about getting away (as from a predator). They’ll run for the brush to hide or to a hole in the fence, or even crash the fence. They may not be thinking clearly enough to see the gate where you want them to go. Or, they may quickly make up their minds to NOT go through the gate into the corral because they’ve had a bad experience in there — and your pressuring them has aroused their survival instinct for flight.

The principle behind calm, efficient cattle herding is simple; don’t force them or alarm them. Put gentle pressure on them — approaching from a direction that encourages them to move away in the proper direction — and give relief from pressure when they do move. Calm cattle will let you approach fairly close and then they will start moving away.

Cattle Handling Part 1 Basic Cattle Handling

Flight zone: A cow has a certain amount of space in which she feels secure. This imaginary circle of space is much larger for a wild, insecure individual (she starts to move away from you before you get very close) than it is for a gentle, tame animal. A calm, tame animal will let you come quite close before she moves away, and a pet may have no flight zone at all, letting you come up and touch her.

When herding cattle, put pressure on their flight zone to encourage them to move. Your position in relationship to their body or to the herd will dictate the direction and speed they go. If you approach directly from the side, at a position behind the shoulder, they should move straight ahead. If you travel alongside them, they will continue moving until you get too far forward (near the front of the herd, or more forward than the shoulder of an individual animal) and then they will halt. If you approach the flank they will start moving again, or speed up. You can start them moving or make them go faster by coming closer to their flight zone. When they go the proper speed or direction, ease up (staying a little farther away from them) as a reward, and don’t press closer again unless they slow down too much or stop.

If they understand what you want them to do, and you give them time to figure it out (and to realize there IS relief from pressure when they cooperate), cattle are very easy to herd. Pressuring and release of pressure at the proper times will encourage them to move (or halt) and to go the direction and speed you desire. The herd will also stay together, moving as a group (rather than splitting and running in all directions) if you herd them calmly and don’t get them upset and excited. Best results are had when you move them at a walk, and stay out to the side of a herd, controlling the speed and direction of the leaders. The others will follow if the herd stays calm and relaxed.

Cattle Handling Part 1 Basic Cattle Handling

Low stress sorting: Sometimes you need to sort a group of cattle, as when weaning calves off the cows, sorting off an animal to treat for illness or injury, sorting steers from heifers when selling a group of calves or weanlings, etc. It’s easiest to sort in a small corral so the animals can’t run off — quietly moving the desired animals through a gate into another pen or letting some out into a pasture and leaving the ones you want in the corral. It always helps, however, if you have two pens for sorting, so that if the wrong animal gets past you and runs through the gate, it will still be contained in a pen and hasn’t gotten away into a large field.

When sorting cattle, it’s easiest in small groups so you have room to maneuver in the corral. If you have a large group to sort, split the group and sort half at a time — if you have a spare pen to hold the extra ones. When sorting a group, give cattle time to figure out what you want them to do, so you can encourage them to move toward the gate or chute without stress and commotion. Speak quietly and move slowly, to not upset them — giving the animal a chance to choose the proper direction or to see the gate.

Use their flight zone to advantage, stepping closer to them or backing away to influence the direction of their movement. When letting some through a gate and holding others back, put pressure on the ones you want to hold back and give more room to the ones you want to let by, to encourage them to move through the gate. If an animal is moving in the proper direction, do not chase her or prod her; she should not be punished for doing the right thing. Never poke or prod a cornered animal that has no place to go.

Don’t leave an animal in a pen by itself after you’ve sorted off the others. Even if it must stay by itself (to await the vet, or to be butchered), leave a companion animal with it, or in a pen next to it, for company — so it won’t become excited and frantic.

Cattle Handling Part 1 Basic Cattle Handling

Spotlight On: People

Almost a Veterinarian

Almost a Veterinarian

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from issue:

In 1976, after reading the memoirs of a much-lauded veterinarian/author from Yorkshire England, I got it into my head that I would make a good DVM myself. It was a rather bold aspiration inasmuch as I was a thirty-three year old high school dropout with few credentials and no visible means of support. It was a shot in dark: I hadn’t been in a classroom for fifteen years, but I made my way back to Guelph, Ontario, where the only veterinarian school in Canada was located.

ODHBA 2016 Plowing Match

ODHBA 2016 Plowing Match

The Oregon Draft Horse Breeders Association hosted their 50th Anniversary Plowing Match at the Yamhill Valley Heritage Center in McMinnville, Oregon on April 9, 2016. Small Farmer’s Journal was lucky enough to attend and capture some of the action to share.

New York Horsefarmer Ed Button and his Belgians

New York Horsefarmer: Ed Button and his Belgians

In New York State one does not explore the world of draft horses long before the name of Ed Button is invariably and most respectfully mentioned. Ed’s name can be heard in the conversations of nearly everyone concerned with heavy horses from the most experienced teamsters to the most novice horse hobbyists. His career with Belgians includes a vast catalog of activities: showing, pulling, training, farming, breeding, and driving, which Ed says, “I’ve been doing since I was old enough to hold the lines.”

Livery and Feed

Livery & Feed

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A livery stable, for the benefit of those who never heard of one, was an establishment which catered to horses. It boarded them, doctored them, and bred them, whenever any of these services were required. It also furnished “rigs” — a horse and buggy or perhaps a team, for anyone who wished to ride, rather than walk, about the town or countryside. It was a popular service for traveling men who came into town on the railway train and wanted to call on customers in cross-road communities.

Fjordworks A History of Wrecks Part 2

Fjordworks: A History of Wrecks Part 2

It is always fascinating and at times a little disconcerting to watch how seamlessly the macro-economics of trying to make a living as a farmer in such an out-of-balance society can morph us into shapes we never would have dreamed of when we were getting started. This year we will be putting in a refrigerated walk-in cooler which will allow us to put up more storage-share vegetables.

What We Really Lose

What We Really Lose

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A few minutes with my Old Man will bring you stories Hollywood could never write. Stories of driving the canned milk to town at age 12 in the family pickup, not having a car to drive, driving new Cadillacs, eating home raised meals, eating at the Four Seasons as Presidents walked out while he was walking in, farming with only horses, then new tractors, then big tractors, then not farming, then doing it again with 50 year old tractors, then once more with no tractors.

In Memoriam Gene Logsdon

In Memoriam: Gene Logsdon

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Gene didn’t see life (or much of anything else) through conventional eyes. I remember his comment about a course he took in psychology when he was trying to argue that animals did in fact have personalities (as any farmer or rancher will tell you is absolutely true), and the teacher basically told him to sit down and shut up because he didn’t know what he was taking about. Gene said: “I was so angry I left the course and then left the whole stupid school.”

Raising Chickens on the Schekel Farm

Raising Chickens on the Scheckel Farm

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We kept our eye on this rooster. He was high entertainment for 3 boys and 3 younger sisters on that farm. We didn’t give him a name, just called him “Rooster,” and Rooster ruled. Other roosters moved out of his way. Hens cowered when Rooster appeared. My dog Browser wouldn’t go near Rooster. Rooster was invincible. Or so he thought.

Central Oregon Locavore Online Fundraiser

CENTRAL OREGON LOCAVORE NEEDS YOUR HELP! We at SFJ can relate.  Central Oregon Locavore is running a GoFundMe campaign, similar to our Kickstarter campaign earlier this year.  Follow the links to learn more about Locavore and to show your support. www.centraloregonlocavore.org www.gofundme.com/locavore Central Oregon Locavore works for an ecologically stable and socially just food system […]

The Value of What You Grow

The Value of What You Grow

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There is a lot of value in the produce you sell that contrasts it from what someone can buy at the grocery store. First, you probably sell varieties that are different from what the grocery store sells. As you’ve probably tried dozens of different varieties, you can let the customer know why yours are different. Be brief and talk about things like taste and texture that are easy to get across.

The Shallow Insistence

…a life of melody, poetry and farming?

Today I Prepare

Today I Prepare by Lynn Miller Summering towards seated moments found without splinter found with or without care. No audience save the critical unbecoming self. Were it a long race to now, surprised to be amongst the last running with a chance to go to the target beyond end, tanks full with cupped felt. So […]

UCSC Farm & Garden Apprenticeship

UC Santa Cruz Farm & Garden Apprenticeship

UC Santa Cruz is thrilled to welcome applications to the 50th Anniversary year of the UCSC Farm and Garden Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture. The 39 apprentices each year arrive from all regions of the US and abroad, and represent a wide spectrum of ages, backgrounds, and interests. We have a range of course fee waivers available to support participation in the Apprenticeship.

Congo Farm Project

Congo Farm Project

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I was at day one, standing outside an old burnt-out Belgian plantation house, donated to us by the progressive young chief of the village of Luvungi. My Congolese friend and I had told him that we would need to hire some workers to help clear the land around the compound, and to put a new roof on the building. I thought we should be able to attract at least 20 workers. Then, I looked out to see a crowd of about 800 eager villagers, each one with their own hoe.

Bud & Mary Rickett

Buck & Mary Rickett: Successful Small Farmers

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Ten years ago I answered a classified ad and went to a small western Oregon farm to look at some young laying hens that were for sale. That visit to Buck and Mary Rickett’s place made a quiet impression on me that has lasted to this day. On that first visit in ’71 my eager new farmer’s eye and ear absorbed as much as possible of what seemed like an unusual successful, small operation. I asked what must have seemed like an endless stream of questions on that early visit.

Central Oregon Food and Farms

Central Oregon Food and Farms

Who is growing food in the high desert? How can you find it? And how can you contribute to creating a vibrant local food community in Central Oregon? Find out here! By consuming more Central Oregon grown food we keep money in our region, support local businesses, and have delicious, fresh food to eat.

Back to the Land

Back to the Land

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Tired of living in a crowded urban environment with its deafening noise and bumper-to-bumper traffic and eager to escape what they saw as an economy bent on destroying the planet, Matt and Tasha left their home in the Washington, DC metropolitan area in March 2014. In doing so, they became modern-day pioneers, part of a wave of Americans who have chosen to go back to the land over the past decade, seeking to reclaim and rebuild their lives and to forge a deeper connection to the earth, the animals that inhabit it, and to each other.

Honoring Our Teachers

Honoring Our Teachers

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I believe that there exist many great practicing teachers, some of who deliberately set out to become one and others who may have never graduated from college but are none-the-less excellent and capable teachers. I would hazard a guess that many readers of Small Farmer’s Journal know more than one teacher who falls within this latter category. My grandfather, and artist and author Eric Sloane, were two such teachers.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT