When it comes to moving cattle, some ranchers rely on horses, others use ATVs, and many utilize the skills of a working cattle dog. Whatever the preferred method, there are many considerations to moving cattle efficiently and with minimal stress. Although we don’t use cattle dogs on our ranch, I had the opportunity to be an announcer a few years ago at the National Cattle Dog Finals, and I learned to appreciate what makes a good dog vs. one that just gets in the way when working cattle.
A video by Charles Long, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension resident director of research in Overton, TX, was recently shared with me. In the video, Long depicts and explains how cowboys use black-mouth cur cow dogs to move a group of cattle from a pasture into a pen. You can watch the seven-minute video below, but here are seven points I gleaned from the video regarding the herding of cattle using dogs, along with advice from Long, who is an expert on the subject:
1. Entering the pasture
“Keep the dogs close by the rider until arriving closer to the cattle,” says Long.
2. Gathering the herd
“Use a single quiet command to begin circling the cattle. The cattle will group together to avoid pressure from the dogs,” he says.
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3. The bay up
Long says that the “bay up” allows stragglers to catch up while the dogs maintain the group of cattle together. If the cattle are wild or not dog-broke, they may take the dogs or run away. It might take a little longer to make sure the cattle stay settled in the group.
4. Riding to the herd
“Approach the herd slowly,” advises Long. “In the case of wild cattle, make a large circle, so cattle don’t see or hear you until you are in the position to move them where they want to go.”
5. Starting the drive
Long points out that the dogs stay at the front of the herd to slow movement and prevent runaways, as the cowboys and horses apply pressure from behind the herd.
6. Continuing the drive
In the video, the viewer can see that the cattle move slowly and calmly. This is routine for dog-broke cattle, says Long.
7. Approaching the pens
“The cattle are able to move quietly into the trap, and the dogs stay to the rear to handle any animal that tries to stray away,” concludes Long.
Watch the video here.
Do you use cattle dogs when working your herd? Which breed is your favorite? What tips do you have for training or using these animals to move cattle? Share your advice and experiences in the comments section below.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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