GIS is an abbreviation for Geographic Information Systems. In practical terms, GIS is the application of the science of location and all things related. In the last several year’s significant advances on global positioning and high tech farm equipment has leveraged this technology to increase yields on grain farms, more efficiently apply fertilizers to growing […]
In the last four articles we talked about how to properly drive cattle. (Here are the last four articles in case you missed them: Approaching the Herd, Starting Herd Movement, Driving Your Herd, Turning Your Herd.) Driving pairs deserves special attention because this could well be the #1 livestock handling problem on ranches; that is.
The primary problem when driving pairs is cows and calves getting separated, which often leads to runbacks, or at least to very unhappy, stressed out cattle and people. But it needn’t be that way. Cows and calves trail all over by themselves and don’t have runbacks, right? Have you ever seen a run back when humans weren’t around messing with them? So, that tells us that trailing out is natural to cattle–they already know how to do it–so think how nice it would be if we could stimulate that natural behavior.
So, when driving pairs our goal is (a) for cows to think of their calves first, (b) to stay mothered-up, and (c) to trail out properly so they don’t become unmothered.
The question, then, is: How do we do this?
1. Foster the herd instinct.
Imagine how much easier it would be to trail our cattle out if they preferred to be in a herd. As a prey animal, bovine want to be in herd unless we do something to make the herd an unpleasant place for them to be. So, the main idea in fostering or rekindling the herd instinct is that it’s not something that we actively teach them; rather, it’s a by-product of working our animals properly so the herd is a nice place to be. Unfortunately, in conventional handling, the herd becomes a place cattle don’t want to be because of mishandling.
2. Teach them to walk calmly through gates past a handler.
This is something that we should do with our cows before they calve. We should not let them get in the habit of rushing through gates uncontrolled. Why? It will really hurt us when it comes to trailing out pairs because too many will get unmothered. A basic rule should be that when someone goes up to open a gate they should stay there and regulate the flow of cattle through it. However, an exception might be very young calves if they are overly sensitive to the presence of the gate person and don’t want to go past him or her.
This year I switched from being a year-round cow-calf operation to being a seasonal heifer developer, one of the biggest issues I had was with temperament.
As cattlemen enter the summer months, they need to understand and deal with heat and humidity. We need to consider some guidelines to help us reduce additional stress on cattle during these events and incorporate some of the following practices into our management practices.
It is first important to understand the relationship between temperature and humidity in respects to the Temperature Humidity Index (THI) or Heat Index. Figure 1: Cattle THI Chart (https://go.unl.edu/hpjy), will help to determine the risk level in planning cattle handling during the summer months. Cattlemen need to be aware of the risk based on the weather forecast of the heat stress.
Another useful resource for determining an animal’s heat load is body temperature. However, in a larger commercial setting, this is not a feasible method to determine heat stress. An alternative to this is determining an individual animal’s panting score. A panting score can be a good indicator of body temperature. As the temperature, humidity, and THI increase the panting scores will increase as well. Panting scores are determined on a scale from 0-4 and are assessed as follows (Figure 2: https://go.unl.edu/6ipa).
Handling cattle early in the mornings before temperatures get too high is always recommended. Plan to handle cattle before 8:00 a.m. and never after 10:00 a.m. during summer months. Remember that the animal’s core temperature peaks approximately two hours after the environmental temperature peaks, and takes four to six hours to lower back to normal temperature. With this in mind, you shouldn’t believe that handling cattle in the evening will reduce the risk of heat stress.
Livestock Handling – Starting With the Basics Kathy Voth On Pasture If you’ve been reading On Pasture for very long, you’ve certainly seen Whit Hibbard’s articles sharing the ins and outs of moving cattle and other livestock. (We’ve put them all together in this Special Collection so you can find them more easily.)
One of the things readers have asked us for is more information on low-stress livestock handling. Whit Hibbard, of the Stockmanship Journal, has given us a great start with his articles. 29 more words
We’ve all seen those diagrams of the flight zone. But sometimes seeing a group of animals demonstrate how it works is a lot more helpful. That’s what this video does for us. Yes, it is sheep, but the same principles hold when you’re working with cattle. Though I mostly work with cattle, I like this […]
If you’ve been reading On Pasture for very long, you’ve certainly seen Whit Hibbard’s articles sharing the ins and outs of moving cattle and other livestock. 34 more words