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Mistakes while working cattle?

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Well-known member
Apr 3, 2011
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What are some of the common mistakes you see while working cattle? We don't use horses here don't have near the land nor cattle to do so. Once they are brought into the corral they are sorted on foot. My biggest thing is people yelling and flailing there arms. That will ruin a good quite working session quick in my opinion. Granted there is times that more action is required but the quieter and easier you move them seems like the simpler and smoother things go.
working cattle with my wife seems to be an error every time...I like to push it, and she likes to take it easy and let them sort themselves...usually ends up in a big fight....

of course, it is my fault, and as soon as I accept the blame, all is well. :wink:
Lol. I can't work them with my dad or his friends. Their too pushy for me. Usually ends up with dad being mad ands me finishing by myself.
The biggest problem I have is to many people in the corral if me and my dad are there we know which way the other one is going and things run smoother. As for the wife she refuses to get in a corral with me after I had a melt down about ten years ago with her.
I've found when it comes to cows, you can got a lot faster by slowing down. :wink: Having decent facilities sure helps too. I've watched more than one wreck where the corral had weak spots or a series of them disguised as a corral. The other thing that just takes practice, is knowing where a cows pressure point is and when to move ahead or step back. A half a step the wrong way can sure foul up a sort.
I agree with Leanin H post.
We like the "no dust" way of working cattle.
The less dust you raise, the better. Cattle are slow creatures.
Once you get them riled up, you have problems.

Mr. FH hates a wreck worse than just about anything.

One thing that I feel gets missed working cattle is letting
them "settle." When you get them in the corral, they need
time to look around and see where they are. Don't just jump
in and start them moving before they even know where they
are. The good cowmen we know always let the cattle settle.
Amazing what a difference it makes.

Excellent subject! Thanks for starting this thread.
Don't point out the wife's mistakes. Stay out of the road and take pictures. Let the cows think it is their idea. Use pilot cars on the highway. Keep them off the golf course greens.
:agree: used to work at a finishing lot , 3000 hd or so, used to do all the sorting on foot with the boss and buyers/owners. learned real quick when to move and when not to or risk the wrath of the higher up's. can't work with the yipper's and hollerer' which leave's me working alone a lot :lol: :lol: :lol:
Hard to pass up nice fresh grass like a golf course has-slow down to speed up works most of the time. Ty and I noticed something when moving in a big bunch-we used to work at keeping them fairly tight-now we let them meander along as long as they are heading generally in the right direction it's all good. Most times even if some split off they want to come back to the herd. Never move cattle with a time limit-it takes as long as it takes.
Nothing drives me nuts more than having to work cattle with a bunch of "cowboys" whoopin' and hollerin' trying to do everything on a dead run.

I'd rather work with real cattlemen (or cattlewomen) Doesn't matter if they wear farmer caps instead of hats. These people are proficient with a horse, a atv, a pickup, or on foot.
A.B. 'Buddy' Cobb had a sign on corral @ his lower place-just as you were entering--Buddy generally expressed himself quite well and used most of a sheet of plywood to make this statement:


Sounds like me and Mr Cobb would've got along just fine!
I MUCH prefer working alone with my dogs, but when I do have help, I appreciate them being able to see evolving opportunities which make whatever job we're doing more efficient. In other words, being flexible enough to change it up without having it be explained. That's why dogs are so cool, they read your body language, and don't talk. The cattle understand the dogs a lot better too :wink: :D.

For example, while gathering on a forest permit, you really can't have much of a plan going into it. Instead, you have to wait to see how the cattle are set-up, and "go with the flow". I've noticed it can really frustrate someone used to gathering cattle out in the open... they seem to want a plan :D. It doesn't always go perfectly, but as long as the job is accomplished, and it's enjoyable, then that's all anyone can hope for.

I can't imagine being around people who consistently yell, or get mad while working cattle. To me, working them is the reward for all of the hard work that goes into managing them :D.
They were a kick--Cecil grew up on Navaho indian reservation, her people were old time Indian traders, ran trading posts, her Dad was very prolific western writer--Richardson, plus lotsa pen names. Buddy was trained as oil patch geologist, A.B. Cobb the first had production in Northern Mt--bought that mtn front ranch for 'when the oil runs out'. I was up there maybe 30 yrs ago, looking at bulls,visiting in the kitchen---cup and saucers about rattling off the table---'Doggone you kids, I told you---no more playing basketball in the house!'

Buddy drove Cadillac limousines till he found out Checker made tougher cars--he drove like a bat outa hell, and it's horrible gravel road. So---he's down to Bozeman to pick up son and neighbor kid from college, smoking along the interstate, gets pulled over. The kids watch the patrolman and buddy out the back window---patrolman starts laughing and waves him away. Buddy gets back in the car with smoke coming outa his ears. After a few miles, kid asks him 'what'd he say, Dad?'
"Damn fool asked me if I knew how fast i was going!"

what'd ya tell him?

"Mister--when you drive as fast as I do, you don't dare take your eyes off the road to look at the speedometer!"
Thanks for a little insight into Buddy and Cecil Cobb. I worked with
them for years placing advertising for their bull sales. They were
very interesting and ethical people. I never had the pleasure of
meeting them personally, but I would have liked to. Didn't Cecil
pass away of pancreatic cancer? And Buddy was ill long before she was,
I am asked to look after the timed event end at our local rodeo every year. When I know I will have the time to do so I take the job on. It is a neat challenge to sort and load the roping chute with a bunch of spoiled timed event cattle using nothing but the draw sheet they give me for a sorting tool.

Occasionally someone that doesn't know better asks if I need help. My reply is that there are already two aholes in here and we don't need a third one. :wink:

I helped a friend at another rodeo a year ago. There was a "lady" team roper assisting him to begin with. When she got in the pen the 4 foot piece of 2 inch plastic pipe never quit flailing. I asked her who she was mad at because she was sure taking her frustrations out on a bunch of innocent yearlings. She left after verbally taking a few more of her frustrations out on me. :shock: My friend thanked me for my help and we had a good visit for the rest of the afternoon. :D
Around here it is a no noise, no whacking, no hurry process. The biggest mistake I see when others come over, and/or I go out is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. If a cow won't go where you want her to, there is probably a reason and 95% of the time the reason is you. The other 5% is due to the fact that sometimes cows think like people. Trying to force things is the second worst thing you can do. The worst is failing to learn from the process (or seeking learning).
I tell people when they ask that I never remember my dad yelling at a cow, but I remember him yelling at me as a kid for being in the wrong place/time/etc. Now things are pretty painless and the training sunk in pretty well.

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