Get rid of those crazy cows

One of my first jobs was working for a cattleman who enjoyed using Brahma bulls on different breeds of cows. Many of these cattle were raised on leased ground with little to no cross fencing or permanent corrals and they became somewhat feral over time. My hiring had as much to do with the Border Collies I owned at the time as my ability as a farm hand. My dogs and I hired out to round up cattle and Ronnie [my employer] had a lot of rounding up to do! Work on this farm was often exciting and I have fond memories of running through the woods with my three dogs in pursuit of 200 wild brahma cross cows. We could usually pen most of the cows, though I do remember Ronnie selling hunting rights to a few girls that never could be caught.

Once we had our own herd, working cattle became much quieter. We used dogs, but in a very controlled manner with a goal to never get the cows out of a walk. We have continued to work on our stockmanship over the years and work cattle as quietly as possible, while selecting and breeding for very quiet cattle as we believe the calmer cattle make for better cattle and certainly more enjoyable cattle-though I must say working cows now lacks the excitement of my early years in the cattle business.

I like to find studies that back up what I want to believe anyway, and here is one that does just that for me. An interesting paper about calmness and fertility that had some surprising conclusions. One being that mature cows do not get more docile with gentle, frequent handling-but gentle, frequent handling of heifers does make a difference in temperament and breeding percentage.


About Steve Freeman

Steve Freeman joined Forester Industries as a partner in 2005 after being one of the first customers to use the PasturePro post. He installed his first electric fence in the early 1980’s and implemented management intensive grazing in 1987. Presently, the operation is exclusively beef cattle, but in the past it has also included both goats and sheep. Steve is always happy to talk grazing practices, livestock raising and fence building.
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