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Clinician offers tips for effective stockmanship

By Staff | Jan 1, 2010

Curt Pate, a Kansas City area clinician and cattle producer, discusses how to move cattle with minimum stress on the animals during a demonstration last Wednesday at Spencer Livestock Sales Inc., in Spencer, as part of the 2010 Beef Forum.

SPENCER – Speaking at the 2010 Beef Forum last week, Curt Pate, Kansas City area clinician and rancher, shared four principles of effective stockmanship.

Pate’s presentation was part of Wednesday’s 2010 Beef Forum held at Spencer Livestock Sales Inc. It was the second time Pate was invited to talk with Clay County area cattlemen on low-stress cattle handling.

Pate’s four principles are all based on the behavior of cattle. They include:

  • Cattle want to see you.
  • Cattle want to go around you.
  • Cattle want to go to and be around other cattle.
  • Cattle can only think of one thing at a time.

“I think we have a responsibility to be able to work with our animals,” Pate said. “Often cows and calves are not ready for the stress of the sale barn. Working our animals, even imprinting calves at birth, is a good thing.”

The key to keeping stress in moving sale calves, he added, is not to rush them. “If you go faster than an animal moves you will stop their movement. Animals are so sensitive to our posture,” he added.

Pate demonstrated working the animals with thumbs in his pockets, not with arms raised and waving as is often seen.

“Until our cattle get used to us they have a hard time letting us behind them,” he explained. “Work from the side allowing them to be able to see you.”

When working from behind Pate suggests moving from left to right so they can see you and then they will want to move forward. He also suggests not looking the animal in the eye as they are often too nervous for eye contact, instead one should look at the shoulder.

“Curved lines are predatory.” said Pate. Always move in straight lines.

He suggested that producers have someone video tape them as they work with cattle to get a visual on what they might be doing wrong and to improve their skills and gain cattle’s confidence.

Contact Robyn Kruger by e-mail at rangerob@hickorytech.net.

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