Oil That Gate, ETC.


   One contributing factor to nervous, high-strung cattle just could be you. Even though you might not like to admit it you, your help and your facilities may be part of the excited-cattle syndrome.
   I think anyone with cattle has heard of Temple Grandin by now. She has done a lot to bring awareness to the industry for quieter, easier working of cattle. Sure, sometimes you need to resort to a bit more aggressive tactics, especially if you’re dealing with 4 and 5 temperament scoring animals. However, as a rule the old adages, easy does it or if you want to work cattle faster, do it slower, are good to live by.
   While in Alabama, one cattleman pointed out with pride that he’d discovered the secret to working cattle through the corral was to put the slow, calm, easy-going hand in the back loading the tub and lead-up alley to the head chute.
   I’ve noted time and time again frustration often begins when the person loading the tub puts twice as many animals in the tub as they should. If it will hold 8 head, try putting only 4 in at a time. In the long run, it speeds up the process.
   Before working cattle this fall do a walk-through of your corral and repair gates, pens, check the scale, make sure any squeaky gates are well oiled and in general attempt to develop a quiet, efficient working environment. If the cattle flow through the corral isn’t “flowing”, try to analyze what the problem is. Ask your veterinarian, cattle hauler and even your extension livestock specialist for help.
   Back in the 90’s I spent some time videotaping people working cattle. I started out in the pasture as they gathered the cattle and followed them all the way through the head chute. It was fascinating to see trouble spots even with veteran cattle handlers. Maybe you need to take video of you and your cattle working episodes. You could even end up on You Tube like the Flint Hills cattleman who called up several hundred yearlings with his trombone playing.
   Oh, I almost forgot the dogs. They may work fine in certain instances, but around the working chute itself, they’re better left in the trailer or on the truck. ∆
   ELDON COLE: Extension Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri
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