On Monday we brought in about 380 yearlings for shipping. We moved them from a nearby pasture to our feedlot in the yard.
In the three or so miles to home we must cross Snake Creek, keep the cattle from making the wrong turn down three different roads, manage traffic while moving down the highway, and finally cross the Frenchman River before arriving safely in our feedlot.
To set ourselves up for success we first corralled and loaded about eight head to truck home to their final destination. Herd animals tend to be much more willing to go somewhere if they see that some of their friends are already there.
Ideally, we have a crew of 3 or 4 people. One person must be bringing up the rear of the herd, making sure that they are moving at a steady but manageable pace. Another person needs to be in front of the herd to make sure that they don’t start running and to direct them through the gate. Then we need someone who can be in the front half of the herd so they can move up the side and ensure the cattle stay on the right path. Lastly, it is helpful to have someone waiting in approaches to deter the cattle from wandering into a neighbors yard. Our dogs are very willing to do their part as well.
On this particular move things went exceptionally well. After gathering the yearlings they crossed the creek easily despite the water that was running over the road. Once on the gravel road the herd strung out enough that they were moving at a steady pace and didn’t start running. When we got them onto the highway we were lucky that the drivers of the vehicles behind us were kind enough to wait until we were off the road before proceeding. Finally, with surprisingly little persuasion, the herd crossed the belly-deep river and were rewarded for their efforts with fresh hay bales in the feeders.
Our mission is always to minimize the amount of stress for both the cattle and the cattlemen (and women!). If we become stressed the cattle will become stressed so we take a calm, quiet, and deliberate approach when working with them. Taking a little extra time and patience is well worth the reward of an easy move and happy cattle.
And on to the trucks Tuesday morning.