Seminole Crop E News

Agricultural News for Farmers and Agribusiness in SW Georgia

Stockmanship

Posted by romeethredge on August 21, 2014

I like this article by Dr. Lee Jones,UGA Vet, in the Southeast Cattle Advisor blog. Here’s the link to the blog with the full article.  http://www.secattleadvisor.com/

Stockmanship, Dr. Lee Jones, UGA College of Veterinary Medicine | Southeast Cattle Advisor

“Stockmanship, like sustainability, is a commonly used word that many might find hard to clearly define in a few words. Stockmanship has been defined as the knowledgeable and skillful handling of livestock in a safe, efficient, effective, and low-stress manner and denotes a low-stress, integrated, comprehensive, holistic approach to livestock handling (Stockmanship Journal). However, stockmanship is more than just handling. It is concerned with the whole life of the animal in our care. We used to call it animal husbandry or stewardship. First and foremost, stockmanship is livestock centered. By that I mean, we must consider the natural behavior and needs of the animal or group. There are 3 essential elements of good stockmanship: an environment that provides protection and comfort appropriate for the species; adequate, well designed facilities that enables low stress handling; and a comprehensive, herd health management program……….

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Stockmanship and Resources

The good stockman knows his/her resources and is a good business manager. Bud Williams was fond of telling folks that “ranchers have 3 things in their inventory: money, grass and animals. You can never have too much money or too much grass but you sure can have too many animals.” It’s beyond the scope of this article to go into a lot of detail but good stockmen manage grass and soils and let the cows harvest the grass. To some degree herds on understocked pastures can increase production (calf weaning weights) to make up the difference but herds on overstocked pastures not only don’t reach their full potential the overall herd production is severely diminished, soils become depleted or degraded, future pasture health is compromised and cow herd fertility suffers as well as calf weights and calf health. Calves from overgrazed pastures are more likely to experience health problems after weaning. Good stockmanship means knowing what the carrying capacity is of the pastures and stocking appropriately.

Principles of Cattle Handling

Slower is better. Obviously this has its limits but for the most part slower is better and faster than getting in big hurry. Pressure from the side and only when cattle see where to go. When cattle are pressured from the rear they are likely to turn around to face the pressure. Cattle want to see you. Once cows can see the opening and are facing that direction then we can push them in that direction from their side behind the point of their shoulder. Cattle must be comfortable to go by you and stay straight. Cattle naturally face any threat. If cattle feel threatened by you they won’t walk straight or go by you. When working cattle in an alley, going with the flow slows them down and going against the flow speeds them up. This seems counter intuitive at first but it works. Try it and see. Cattle can only process one thing at a time. Many folks like to talk to their cattle. If cattle are used to this then it probably won’t cause problems. However, multiple stimuli including sight, sound and touch creates confusion for cattle and thereby increases stress and the flight response. Cows work best when they are ready; it’s up to us to get them there.

Simply put, I think good stockmen are students of their cattle. Good stockmanship is like a timely rain, sunshine and hybrid vigor; it doesn’t cost anything extra but the benefits to cattle health, welfare and performance are tremendous.”

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