I hate chasing cattle (pic)

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SRBeef

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I did the monthly weigh in of my small herd yesterday. Since I usually am working them alone, I really hate chasing cattle.

They were nowhere to be seen when I went to the corral with a couple of 5 gal buckets of sweet feed. In my rotational grazing system the current paddock is right next to the corral. However they usually also have access, through a series of lanes, to the woods in the background in the photo below, at least up to a fenceline through the woods. The woods gives them a cool place to get out of the sun and also keeps the undergrowth down. in the part they have access to.

After banging on the feed bucket a few times and calling to them I hear this bellow coming out of the woods in the far left of the picture. Then I see one red and white cow in the distance then a line of them coming between resting paddocks, down the lane across the dam, turning at the waterer, under the fly rubs and heading into the corral. Here's a picture I took as they entered the corral.

IMG_1152.JPG


I'm sure many of you have cattle that come when called. I like watching rodeos, I don't like hosting rodeos, and I hate chasing cattle! They always get their treat (once a week or so) in the feed bunks on the right side in the corral. I also leave the mineral lick tub in the corral (edge of it visible). Even the calves come by for a lick and get used to being in the corral.

I let the lead group see me pouring the last bucket of feed into the bunks inside the corral - so they know where it comes from - and pretty soon they are all in the corral. I have a smaller portable bunk in the left rear corner, behind the tub, that the calves use so they get used to a treat in the corral. While everyone is focused on the treat, I go around the left outside the corral and quietly close the lane gate. From there they go where I want them to go. Safely, with minimal fuss and stress for them and for me.

They have free access to the corral at all times and occasionally I just close the gate for no reason when I am mowing etc and leave them in there for an hour or so just so they learn not to go nuts when the gate closes. I then leave the tub, alley doors and chute open and a brighter cow soon finds that is another way out. In a couple minutes they follow the leader thru the tub, alley/scale, chute and open headgate back to grazing. So going thru is no big deal. Occasionally then I pause them to get a weight, and a couple times a year they get paused again in the headgate for a jab by the vet, sorted one way or the other or into the loading ramp.

I only had to use the tub sweep for a couple of them plus the calves yesterday. Calves have not quite learned the drill yet. Most just walk thru and onto the alley scale. They know this is a way out. They also get used to being handled this way. Got a lot of good weight data. I was really pleased at how the system I built a couple years ago is working. No yelling, hotshots or poking. In fact it goes smoother if you talk to them thru the process. They stay calmer. FWIW.

Jim
 

KNERSIE

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If you work cattle alone your system is definately the way to go. I'm impressed by the little I can see of your corral, can you draw a diagram to show the lay out please?
 
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SRBeef

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KNERSIE":1dcd3xn1 said:
If you work cattle alone your system is definately the way to go. I'm impressed by the little I can see of your corral, can you draw a diagram to show the lay out please?

Knersie,

I have to go this morning. I looked for a good overall picture but don't have one of the final setup. I'll try to make a sketch and put it on in the next couple days.

There is a gate along the left side of the lane where the cows enter that swings across to close the entrance. The gate visible along the far wall swings towards the tub. there are a couple other gates to the left so I can gradually reduce the size of the space leading to the tub to group animals. This way I can get all of the bull calves in one group for cutting.

The tub entrance is around to the left rear, there is one alley section shown between the sliding solid doors (don't use the bar grate in the air). The scale is under the alley. Palp cage on the back of the Formost chute is visible, then coming out of the chute there is a spring loaded swinging wooden gate that can send them either back into the bunk area, into the field on the left or into the loading ramp and trailer. I work everything from the left (opposite) side of the chute in the picture once I get the gate closed.

The main thing I am trying to show above is the cattle coming into the corral and almost self-working because they are familiar with the corral and system. They associate the corral with good things (treats). After working days I try to give them a little extra grain in the corral later that day and they soon forget any unpleasantness and come right back again. Jim
 

marksmu

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I have been trying the same thing - we bought a portable corral, and I am getting ready to work the cows - about a month ago, I set it up and left it open, then I started feeding a bag of cubes every week inside it to get them accustomed to it. I have 2 cows that are afraid of it for whatever reason, that are just now getting used to it. The calves are still quite skittish about it though.

I can hoot and holler though, and get all but those 2 cows and a few calves into the corral in minutes - worth every penny I spend on the cubes.
 

cfpinz

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The funny thing is that I've never seen a guardrail corral on a hereford operation. Most of guardrail lots I've seen are on angus or limi farms.
 

daniel.carver

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looks like a great setup, woud deffinetly like to see a sketch of how your doing it though. I'm buying panels a few at a time & Have a home made shute. Deffinetly need ideas. Thanks Dan
 

cmf1

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I've got something similar to what you're describing, but I think I'm going to extend a panel fence out to partition fence to make it a bit more of a "catch" pen than the "sucker" pen that it is now.
Rarely, If I have one that's not participating as I feel they should, a little push is all I'm really lacking.
I do agree that calmness, familiarity, and reward are their own rewards come working time. :nod: :nod: :nod:
 

TheBullLady

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Great picture, and great approach! We've been doing similar for years now, and while a lot of cattle raising Texans tend to sneer at anything that involves feed and quiet, instead of whooping and hollering and dogs and horses, it's sure made it easy for us. Our feed bunks are in a big corral, and the cows will gladly come up when I call them. In fact, many times they'll come up when they see me out there putting out salt or mineral.

Once you get the older cows into the routine, the younger ones learn pretty quickly. Good job!
 

aussie_cowgirl

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It's like working cattle through yards in general, if you make it a scary event they're going to be reluctant. but you can move them carefully and quietly just using where you stand to move them around which makes a huge difference. Kudos to you. I think people forget a herd is only as fast as their slowest member.
 

dun

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No matter how often it's done, there is always one that doesn;t get the word and get with the probram. Never the same one either
 

Stocker Steve

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I worked cattle with a broken down 3 board Holstein fence and some 48" cattle panels the first couple years. Some Limi and Angus sales barn specials taught me different...

I see some local operations that have board corrals with extensions or cattle panels added to make them 6.5 to 7 feet high. Must have some very large framed cattle in the herd.

Now I build a solid 60" plank corral and work them quiet. It that isn't enough it's time for the trailer.
 

aussie_cowgirl

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Stocker Steve":38d52bip said:
I see some local operations that have board corrals with extensions or cattle panels added to make them 6.5 to 7 feet high. Must have some very large framed cattle in the herd.

.

Or Brahmans. :lol:
 

MO_cows

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Looks like you have built very good facilities and I totally agree with training your cattle that the working pens are not a scary place. We can usually get ours in with a holler, too, and it is sooooo convenient. I envy you having your own scale.
 
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SRBeef

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cfpinz":3kqt1iyt said:
The funny thing is that I've never seen a guardrail corral on a hereford operation. Most of guardrail lots I've seen are on angus or limi farms.

Well, the originsal reason for using used highway guardrail on the north side of the corral was for structural reasons - there is about a 30 ft free span of guard rail over the fenceline bunk opening. Bolted together guard rail is very strong then I joined the two levels of it and it seems to be working.

The corral really didn't cost very much to build if you don't count my labor. There was a "100 year flood" in SW Wiscoinsin in August of 2007 which downed many power and telephone lines. I built this corral in November 2007. The corral posts are all used utility poles which were free for the asking from local power and phone companies. I took a chain saw and the trailer. The key corners and gate posts are the butt ends of the poles, the pole tops are used for intermediate posts. I rented an auger and there was a sack of dry sackcrete thrown in the bottom of each hole.

The west and south sides are 2" x 10" x 10-20 ft long rough sawn oak boards which had been sitting in a pile for a couple years after a construction project and I bought the whole lot for $200. off of my local internet providers bulletin board. A lot of work to go get it but really not much $$ for what I got. And it is strong. The telephone posts are only 6 ft 3" apart (std hole spacing for guard rails). One of my bigger expenses was the breaker rock and gravel to level the inside since about everything in my area of WI is on a slope.

There are pipe gates and posts only on the east end. I'll post a sketch of the arrangement in the next week or so. This is a busy couple weeks for me on the road.

There were a couple things I've learned from this project so far that may be of use to other beginners: use solid sheeted panels everywhere. Dr Temple Grandin is correct in controlling sight lines is a big part of keeping cattle calm. I have ended up painting 1/4" plywood sheets and wiring them to the inside of most of the pipe gates on the corral exterior. Even behind the feed bunks there are cattle panels with plywood liners.

A major issue was switching from the pipe grates provided by the manufacturer to a solid sheeted sliding doors on both ends of the alley. There is nothing quite so upstting to a cow in the alley as watching her buddy up ahead get preg checked by the vet!!

Some times we and cattle are better off not knowing whats coming up. Sort of like getting shots in the military - you walk thru a door and they hit you with the needle guns in both biceps before you know what happened.... They stay calmer in the alley if they can't see ahead. Calves don't turn around and try to slip under a solid door like they do with a grate also. You can see the horizontal sliding doors (closed) in the photo above.

The Formost tub, alley, chute and auto headgate work very well and were the major purchased expense. You really don't need to purchase a chute and headgate since most vets will bring theirs for a couple bucks. Just design the layout so the vet can back his trailer up to your alley.

The scale was a demo unit purchased from a dealer at a farm show. They hate to take stuff back after a show. You don't need a fancy computer type readout. I have the lowest cost Trutest unit made and jot down the weights in a notebook in my shirt pocket. The Trutest scale has an aluminum walk on it and sits in the sheeted alley in the left in the original picture above and works very well.

I am just a beginner in cattle but one thing I see is that, like most other businesses that are worth being in, there is some initial investment required if you are going to be in the business.

One of my first cows I purchased was really wild. It didn't take long to see she was not an animal I wanted around and she made the whole herd skittish. A good neighbor and I tried to load her in a trailer with some cattle panels wired together.... to make as long story short we tried for hours unsuccessfully to get her into the trailer and she almost broke my arm pushing a panel over on me.

At that point I designed this corral...in honor of #59, RIP. I REALLY enjoyed those hamburgers!

I'll try top make a sketch in the near future. Jim
 

grubbie

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So similar to how we do it. We go out on the four-wheeler with a bag of cake every now and then and give them a treat. When it comes time to gather them up, they will follow that four-wheeler for miles, nice and easy. Bring em into the corral and I can sort off what I need to hold back for whatever reason by myself if i need to. I set up my newest corral so I can run them into a squeeze by myself. I also talk nice and soft to them as Im working them, I agree it keeps them calm. If they start getting a little "hot" I just close the gate and back off for a few minutes and let them settle down before I try sorting again. Range cows don't necessarily have to be "rangey" cows. Anyway,...nice lookin setup you have there!
 

msscamp

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dun":2tv33zc5 said:
No matter how often it's done, there is always one that doesn;t get the word and get with the probram. Never the same one either

Isn't that why horses where invented? Saddle up your horse, and go round up the cows - problem solved. ;-) :lol:
 

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