When you think about the gurus of low-stress livestock handling, the name of Bud Williams is likely high on your list. Renowned for his stockmanship skills, Williams is a long-respected figure in the cattle industry, and I’m sorry to report that he passed away on Nov. 25 from pancreatic cancer.
Williams was the originator of the “Bud Box,” a rectangular corral that replaces the traditional half-round “tub” crowding area to more efficiently move cattle. See a video here.
His wife Eunice writes on their blog, “Bud’s gone... Bud died today of pancreatic cancer. Bud and I have had quite a ride. Thanks to all of you for helping us make things better for the animals.”
His biography on their website reads, “Bud was born in 1932 on a farm in Southern Oregon, where he was raised with a variety of farm animals including work horses, dairy and beef cattle, sheep and hogs. After he and Eunice married in 1952, he worked on cattle and sheep ranches in Northern California. The main qualifications enabling him to perfect his method of handling livestock were his great powers of observation and pure stubbornness. He has always said ‘No cow is going to get away from me, she doesn’t live long enough.’ They also were able to rotationally graze without fences by taking any type of livestock (including weaned calves) onto unfenced ranges, teach them to stay as a herd.
“After their daughters left home, Bud and Eunice started traveling in earnest, only taking jobs that were difficult and interesting. They have had excellent results working both beef and dairy cattle, as well as sheep, goats, elk, fallow deer, reindeer, bison and hogs. They have gathered wild reindeer above the Arctic Circle in Alaska and wild cattle in Old Mexico and the Aleutian Islands, and have implemented remarkable increases in production in dairy herds as well.
“In 1989, after much urging from people he has helped through the years, Bud began actively teaching his stockmanship methods to a larger number of people in the hope his unique methods of working livestock will not die with him. For the 11 years ending in 2000, Bud and Eunice headquartered at Vee Tee Feeders Ltd. near Lloydminster, Alberta. This is one of the most northern feedlots on the continent. Since the bulk of the incoming cattle were freshly weaned calves, and the weather conditions were far from ideal, Bud felt the information he gathered there has special significance.
“Bud and Eunice lived together in Independence, KS, where they continued to work with livestock people around the world to spread the word about good stockmanship.”
Through the years, BEEF magazine has featured Williams’ ideas and philosophies on low-stress cattle handling.
Here are a few of my favorite articles:
- “Bud Box” by Alaina Burt
- “Calm & Collected” by Temple Grandin
- “Basic Cattle Handling Principles” by Rory Lewandowski
- “Tips For Optimal Cattle Health” by Gayle Smith
- “Outsmart Your Cows” by Dave Sjeklocha
- “Low-Stress Handling Techniques For Producers” by Amanda Radke
Again, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Bud Williams. The beef industry has certainly lost an icon -- one whose influence will continue for years to come.
Do you have a favorite memory of Williams? How have his stockmanship tips influenced you and your operation?