Are Your Sorting Skills Up To Snuff?

September 12, 2014

3 Min Read
Are Your Sorting Skills Up To Snuff?

At home, we are busy these days hauling manure, preparing for harvest, and getting organized before our traditional weaning time the first weekend of October. Thus, we are in a countdown to bringing our cow-calf pairs home from summer pasture, and I’m looking forward to recording the weaning weights on the calves and learning exactly how well they performed this summer.

Anytime you work cattle with family, friends and neighbors, it becomes very apparent that every individual has a unique style for moving through the cattle and sorting calves from the cows. These style differences can, at times, cause frustration, miscommunication and mistakes – that may even lead to injury of people or cattle.

Even though handling cattle almost comes as second nature to a lot of guys, it’s still important to brush up on sorting techniques from time to time. Ryan Reuter, an associate professor in beef cattle research at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore, OK, recently penned an article entitled, “7 Habits of Highly Effective Stock Handlers.” I think it’s worth a read, and here is an excerpt:

“A common misconception is that low-stress must mean no pressure. That is absolutely false. Cattle, like all other animals, respond to appropriate application and release of pressure. There are times when significant pressure must be applied to get the animals to move how and when you need. Pressure, used appropriately, does not cause long-term, harmful stress.


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“A good stockman will stay quiet when working cattle. If cattle aren’t doing what you want, it is not because they can’t hear or see you. It is because you are in the wrong place doing the wrong thing. Don’t yell and scream, and don’t make wild movements. Move calmly, purposefully and in straight lines. Cattle will be able to predict your movements and respond appropriately to them. If you move like a predator (hesitating, followed by sudden movements and in curves around them), the cattle will treat you like a predator.”

To read all seven tips, click here.

Additionally, I ran across this YouTube video, which offers an idea for efficiently sorting cow-calf pairs. I think it’s worth a shot, if you have the right set-up. Take a minute to watch the video and let me know what you think.

What are your best handling and sorting tips? What advice do you have for dealing with various styles and skill levels of the help when sorting cattle? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or the Penton Farm Progress Group.


Other BEEF stories to enjoy:

Want More Money For Your Calves? Superior Study Says Weaning & Preconditioning Pays

September Cattle Market Outlook | Bull Run Cools, But Market Upside Possible

10 Ways To Have A Stress-Free Weaning Day

Effective Heifer Development Means Thinking Early & Long Term

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