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Am I overreacting?

Discussion in 'Behaviors & Handling Techniques - Cattle' started by Farmer-ish, Feb 9, 2018.

  1. Feb 10, 2018
    greybeard

    greybeard Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    yep, their nose bridge (and whole skull) is a lot harder than your hand.
    The 2 lactaters with the small calves I'm feeding off to the side right now know what that stick is and know I'll use it too.
    I have one, but I try to avoid using a hotshot at all but have on a rare occassion on some horned beefmasters that got too antsy, but mostly they'll just shake their heads and ignore it anyway.)

    Training them to respect your space begins when they're calves, doubly so with bulls tho even the best one can get an attitude right out of the blue.
    Always have a way out in mind.
    In my working pen, my escape gate by the headgate is spring loaded shut. (2 trampoline springs) Just a little pull and I'm out with the gate slamming shut behind me.

    WH, somewhere, I have a picture of all 4 of my kids sitting on the back of my dad's first Brahma bull with me standing beside him and he was a big tall rascal. No rope, halter or nose ring. Looking at it now, it was a disaster waiting to happen..we were in an open field and nowhere to go.
     
  2. Feb 10, 2018
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    I had a longhorn bull...... I didn't carry a stick, I carried a piece of galvanized pipe. Me and my big stupid mouth, wanting a longhorn.
     
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  3. Feb 10, 2018
    Farmer-ish

    Farmer-ish Just born

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    He's at about 600lbs right now.
     
  4. Feb 10, 2018
    Farmer-ish

    Farmer-ish Just born

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    Excellent stuff, guys. Thank you all!
     
  5. Feb 13, 2018
    WildRoseBeef

    WildRoseBeef Range nerd & bovine enthusiast

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    I'm really late to this conversation, apologies, but no you're definitely not over-reacting. It's really important to have animals bigger than you being able to respect you and your space, and if they're not, then it's time to do something about it.

    You've been given some good advice here, but I have to add my two cents, and go beyond the "carry a big stick" advice. I've tried the stick method and had one steer of mine give me a good lesson (no, I wasn't hurt nor threatened with life lol, but he was testing my patience and my space) on how attitude and body language matters a lot more than you think.

    If you're going to be using a stick to handle cattle and correct some bad behaviour, you need to accompany it with an assertive, yet calm attitude to let them know that you legitimately mean business and sincerely demand their respect. Animals are so incredibly sensitive with how and what you're feeling, even if it's unconscious, that they readily mirror what you're feeling to the max. So whatever you are demanding of them, act and feel like that's what you intend. Don't use the stick because you're afraid of what's going to happen (we tend to be really good at creating what we fear the most), but because you want them to know that what they're doing is not tolerated, period, end of story. And follow through by standing your ground or walking after them if need be. (Note that this is going to be a little more difficult if you've got a hormonal new momma cow that's more interested in protecting her calf than getting disciplined...)

    Personally (and this is just my opinion, not telling anyone else what they choose to use or do is wrong/right) I don't feel the need to use a stick or stockman's staff when working with cattle. I go by what they're telling me, how they're holding their heads, and how they react when I get near them. If I get can get them to turn their butts toward me and walk away, that's a good sign and means that I'm already seen as some kind of boss cow. If I don't get that at first, I just stop and avoid eye contact, stand still, and let them decide what to do, but never allow myself to become fearful or apprehensive, because that is just asking for trouble--I remain positive, and only think of what I want that animal to do, not dreading what I fear it'll do.

    A little story: I've had a big, big bull give me the challenging stance in the middle of a corral where my escape routes were pretty far away. Full-on show of his side, neck arched up to show how big and strong he was, etc. I had no stick with me, just myself and my gut feelings. So I just stopped moving either forward or backward, and avoided eye contact, but still kept a close eye on him. I was admittedly terrified of what he could do, but I didn't let it over come me nor show through. I just let myself completely relax and think only of what I asked of him. Seconds seemed to go by sooo slowly... and before I knew it he relaxed himself, turned briefly to look at me a little, then turned away and walked away. I praised him (and the Lord) immediately after!! After that little seemingly minor Mexican showdown, he never gave me ANY trouble after that, and I could easily herd him right to the other pasture I needed him to go into. He only looked back at me a couple times, but not as a challenge, only to look for direction from me. And he stayed where I put him and went right to grazing when I went back to go herd the other cows he was in with to where I placed him.

    Other times I've had some no-account steers do the head-tossing, mock-charging, being all-around annoying goof-balls that weren't on their best behaviour. I just gave 'em a good growl (like "HEY you little brats, gerroutta here!!") , and when that didn't get through their heads (again, no stick), I went after them with the intent that I meant business and wasn't going to put up with their horse-play. And I made sure I followed through by walking to them and getting them to walk away from me. It takes a few times, but they do get it.

    So, your attitude is SO important. Moreso, IMHO, than holding onto a big stick. There's going to be times when you forget that stick and find yourself in the pen with those animals and be needing only your legs, your brain, and your wits with you to work with them. ALWAYS go by what your gut tells you, and let them teach you what you need to know in order to better work with them. I know this sounds strange and a bit convoluted, but apart from what I've learned at a 2-day proper stockmanship clinic, I strongly believe cows/cattle have much more to teach us than we often think. :)
     
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  6. Feb 13, 2018
    Wehner Homestead

    Wehner Homestead True BYH Addict Golden Herd Member

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    I will herd cattle I know with only my hands. My grandfather teased me and called it “patty-caking.” I didn’t always feel a need for a stick but I feel like there are situations where it is called for.

    In this situation, the OP isn’t comfortable enough with cattle to read their body language. That should make her extra cautious. Just my opinion.
     
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  7. Feb 14, 2018
    greybeard

    greybeard Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    I am of the opinion, that it's still far better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.