Stockmanship—your Key to Successful Herd Management

The Value of Stockmanship

The value of stockmanship needs to be understood before you can make the decision to begin to integrate it into your own livestock management.

  • How much value is there in extra pounds per animal and extra animals due to a lower death loss?
  • How much value is there in being able to graze the exact pasture needing grazing that day, rather than being forced to go in a certain pattern because the only way you can move your livestock is to open a gate and move them into the adjacent pasture?
  • How much is it worth to you to have a happy spouse/child working with you rather than seeing them stomp off in disgust because you’ve yelled at them once too many times when the livestock didn’t work well?
  • How much is it worth to not have to re-build fence, doctor cuts and scrapes on livestock and/or people, or take anyone to the emergency room after a day of working your livestock?
  • How much is it worth to be able to gather all your animals (instead of good old #27 always finding a way to evade capture)? Or if you just need one animal, wouldn’t it be nice to just bring it up alone and do what’s necessary?
  • How much satisfaction is there is doing a job quietly, smoothly, easily, and with all parties (people and livestock) happy and healthy after it’s all done?

These are all things good stockmanship can help you with!

Richard speaks in Bolivar on February 10, 2005.
Richard spoke about Stockmanship to a
packed house February 10 in Bolivar.

How to Begin

The good news is, most everyone can improve their stockmanship in some degree and with just a little practice. Starting out slowly, working with the animals in a slightly changed way will give you positive results you can build on until bigger changes and even better results are achieved. This isn’t an “all or nothing” thing. Even making small changes in the way you work your livestock can show big results. You can stay at that level and enjoy some benefits of better stockmanship, or you can learn and change even more and see how many more values you can find for good stockmanship!

How to Continue Improvement

Just like learning to ride a bicycle, you can’t learn stockmanship only from reading a book. By attending a stockmanship school you will hear stories, see examples, and learn techniques to get started. This combined with the Bud Williams videos and/or the Steve Cote book (see below) will give you the resources you need. You can return to the books and video every so often and pick up new things as you grow and learn through your own practice.

Perhaps the best starting advice was a statement Tauna Powell made at one of my stockmanship schools. She said, “Keep your hat on your head, your hands in your pockets and your mouth shut.”

The main source of information about stockmanship is on Bud Williams Stockmanship web page located here. See the assortment of videos available for sale including Bud Williams’ 5 hour presentation at the 1990 Stockman Grass Farmers Grazing Conference DVD set for $125 and the new 18 hour external hard drive of video for $750.

“Stockmanship,” a book by Steve Cote, is also an excellent resource. To order, send $23 to Butte SWCD, PO Box 819, Arco, ID 83213.

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