Today we took advantage of the great weather and moved some young cows north to new grass. This will provide fresh ground for when they begin calving in 2-3 weeks. We trailed the cows for 7 miles and these young cows were really frisky for the first half mile.
Walking vs. Transportation
Some may ask why we walk our cattle ‘so far’ instead of transporting them. Well the answer is multi-faceted. In short, just as walking is part of a healthy lifestyle for you and I, it is important for the cattle to stay active as well. Cattle are herding animals. They prefer to be part of a herd, fed as a herd, and moved as a herd. This reduces the overall stress on the cows themselves, as well as the handlers (sometimes it can be very difficult to separate one cow). We aim to move cattle at a speed of around 1 – 2 miles per hour (approximately 2 – 3 km/h). This is a moderate walking speed for the cows but will vary with temperature and if they have calves with them. In some cases, we also slow them down so they don’t get too tired or over-heated. Overall, we feel that for herd health, reduction of stress, and ease of movement, walking/trailing our cattle to new grass is the best practice for our herd.
How do you move a herd of cattle? Well you need some good helpers. The star of the show is a cattle dog: Red, the border collie. Red does most of the work, he listens to commands from the herdsmen, and keeps all the cows going in the right direction. Then we need our herdsmen; depending on the size of the group, and the area that we cover, we usually require 1-2 herdsmen. Either on horseback, or on a 4-wheeler (quad/bike/ATV), the herdsmen, open and close gates, set the speed of the trail, and ensure everything goes smoothly.