In the final analysis there is no solution to man's progress but the day's honest work, the day's honest decisions, the day's generous utterances and the day's good deed.
—Clare Booth Luce
As a couple, Tom and I have been working on our horsemanship and stockmanship skills for years. We have worked in both the ranching industry and the cutting horse industry.
For the last 21 years we have traveled together while Tom teaches colt starting, horsemanship, cow working and ranch roping clinics. Tom and I have always known the importance of good stockmanship and have used our cattle to train our horses on. Through that process we have learned that by handling the stock, correctly they will last longer.
A lot of people, when they hear about low stress stock handling get their hackles up. They think, ‘I can't have been handling cattle wrong, it is how my granddad taught me to do things'. But life is an experiment and it is important to keep an open mind and keep experimenting.
After watching Bud Williams' DVD's, Tom and I have been experimenting with Bud's style of stockmanship as well as his marketing style. These techniques are really fun to try and it is amazing how well they work. They are working really well for us now and this is why we are writing this testimonial because it is working really well for us.
Meeting Richard, Tina and Miss Eunice was a great pleasure. They did an excellent job of teaching Bud's ideas on marketing and they added ideas to help our stockmanship skills. It is wonderful how doing something just a little bit different can make a big change.
We used the methods we learned in Brandon for moving cattle last week when we sorted cows and calves and WOW! Much smoother handling, kids were impressed and we were all still smiling and talking to each other at the end of the day! I would have taken pics to show how it was all going but it was moving so tickity smooth and fast there was no time! lol We showed our other kids the DVD and some youtube videos and they caught on right away so the day went very quickly, and all that was to be done in 2 (possibly 3 days) was done in ONE!!! THANK YOU for teaching the course! It was worth the time and money spent!
I moved, wormed, and separated my cow herd Monday (90 cows and 70 calves). Did I mention all by myself? A few years ago I would have brought in neighbors, friends, and relatives to achieve the same result but with much stress to all involved.
It has taken me awhile to get over the "all or none" concept of cattle handling. I thought I had to capture, contain, and work all cows at one time. Wrong! Take in a few, the ones that are happy to move. Worm, separate, and move. Then take the next willing group, do the same thing. First thing you know, there is only a few left. Some that may need a little direction but are very concerned that they have been left behind. And just like that, you're finished. No one got worked up, ran through fences, or had a meltdown.
The concept of "let them" rather than "make them" has completely changed my cattle handling experience.
Just had to let you know that after chores tonight I decided to see how my little calves were doing; looked towards the gate and didn't see or hear anything but really wanted to walk amongst them. Well, they were all scattered doing various things so I thought I needed to gather them again to see if I could and just make them do a few rounds. Those pesky steers were hanging around again, but they didn't once try to follow me. So I went about trying to gather everyone but my dog was standing outside the fence and the holstein steers of course had to check it out and every time I would just about get the calves kind of rounded those steers would want to head back to the fence. Needless to say I was getting really discouraged because it seemed no one wanted to do what I wanted them to do; and I was just about to give up thinking yesterday was just a shot in the dark that really worked for once and it was just plain luck. But lo and behold; I gave it one more try and guess what????? They came together and started going my way!! I made them go around a couple of times and then they all went and gathered in the cattle shed again like last night. So I just stood there looking at them and them looking at me and I decided to walk away and see what they would do and I kept walking to the gate and over the gate and back to the barn and they were still standing there as long as I could see them. IT WORKED AGAIN!!!! YEAH!! Thanks for coming up and showing us so much that we could take home for practical use. I'm just having a ball. p.s. I forgot to tell you my husband couldn't believe they had all quit balling; he said only one hadn't come up this morning to eat. And also when the cows came in the barn tonight I stood right in the middle of them and they all went in their stalls. AMAZING!!!!
Update 6 days later—Have been using techniques all over. Today we went to wean a group of cows and there was a crazy cow in there. She took two other cows and four calves with her to the far end of the quarter. Everyone said to leave her because you'll be all day getting her. And guess what; yeah that is right, I walked out and brought her back and I could not believe how she calmed right down by the time I had her back at the corral. I am having so much fun trying things in all different situations and I'm here to say that it truly works but you must have patience!!!!!
I just wanted to share my first experience using the techniques I learned from you [at the Arcola, SK school]. We had some stocker heifers (119) on a Wildlife Management Area all summer. The group had to be off by September 15th, so last week we decided it was time to bring them home before hunting season started. There was no corral on this land, so the day before we hauled panels and made a corral much like the one you designed in Arcola. The same day I spent an hour getting the heifers used to myself being on foot (typically we move with quads). I drove them to the pasture with the corral which was about 80 acres in size. The next morning I took the trailer over and headed out on foot to bring the heifers in. They were on the far side of the pasture, and it took a little while to get them to drive, but once I got them headed in the right direction it took very little time. Once I got them to the gate of the corral is where the real fun began. I left the trailer open to see what would happen. To my amazement the first animals in the corral started to load themselves! By the time I got the last few heifers in, I almost had a trailer full without pressuring them to load. From the time I set out on foot to the last trailer full of cattle, it took me only 3 hours (most of which was travel time). This was by far the most enjoyable and low-stress experience I have had handling cattle. Low-stress handling will always be used from now on on our operation. Thanks again for sharing your passion and experiences.
Thanks for the Stockmanship School this last week. The very next day we were to work 21 heifers, and my helper didn't show up. With nothing to loose I decided to "drive" my calves a few minutes. It was going good so I kept at it. In a few minutes they were in the lot. I worked the calves by myself (freeze branded and vaccinated). I work off the bottom line, paid $50 for the course, saved $50 in labor cost the very next day.
The best surprise was that when I was finished working the calves I put a couple of rolls of hay into the pen and when I opened the gate they stayed and ate hay.
I just wanted to let you know that yesterday was a good day. The gathering of the cattle out of the 160a pasture and subsequent sorting and loading went well.
We all used some of the techniques you taught us the last two days. The way we went out into the pasture was different. The cattle stayed calm. We did not even see the wild ones as we were bringing them out of the first pasture. They just stayed in with the herd. There were 322, 750 to 900 lb. yearlings. We did use the 4 wheelers in the big pasture. Once we got them in the smaller 3 acre gathering area we went on foot. We were still needing to get them into the corral and sorting area. We thought it was going to be too easy as all but the last 20 or so went into the corral. Then the high headed ones appeared and they broke on us and back they went. We just stood still and let them run back taking all the rest of the cattle out of the corral with them. Hear comes the test. !!! we all thought.
After they had emptied the corral we went back to start over they were uncooperative and broke again. We proceeded to let them go and not pressure them. They ran around quite nervous and after a little while settled down and we tried again. The same thing happened they just could not seem to see the gate they had just almost all been through a few minutes before. ( 2nd time)
We again let them settle down and tried again being calm but deliberate and guess what happened? As we got them closer to the opening to the corral the first ones walked on in and every one of them followed. The day was successful from then on. The sorting went well and the loading went even better. They are now in my yards at home and I plan on training them to drive today.
Thank you for helping us make our day go easier and more successful and much less stressful. All of my help saw the benefit and are now ready to try it again. They were talking about it all day yesterday. I think doing this the very next day after having you explain the technique was especially beneficial.
I have been getting reports from quite a few of the Oklahoma folks that were at the Muskogee training. They have been working it! They are really enjoying the sense of accomplishment, so I want to thank you on their behalf (and mine) for such a great workshop.
Richard and Tina: My son Brian and I sorted, loaded and delivered 33 feeder calves Saturday. Brian said we should send you guys a Thank You Note each time we handle cattle. This was the smoothest and easiest it's ever gone. Price was good too. Now if the sun could just shine. Everything would be "mite near perfect" on the Gorden Ranch.
The only people who don't like this method is the folks who have never taken the time to learn and try. Thanks again
Richard and Tina have been to the university twice on my request to visit with students and other interested people. Using their techniques, I have created a hands-on final for a group of 10 students who had zero beef experience when they entered the class. This semester the students spent a minimum of 4 hrs each week at the beef farm to learn and participate in various activities. The "final" is to bring all of the calves out of a feedlot and take them to the weigh shed. They sort 10 head from the group (by color), then put them through the tub, alley and chute. They are also required to run the hydraulic chute and catch the heads of those calves as if processed. Then they take all of the calves back to the pen.
The calves that are hauled to the livestock center on campus must be trained to lead on a trailer and we must be able to tie them without them fighting the halter. A friend of mine who works for a large, nationally known Angus operation gave me the protocol for halter-breaking the 21 calves that we needed for our "Little American Royal". The technique calls for putting on the halter using a show stick while the calf is in a small pen (12' x 12'). The calf never goes through a chute during the halter breaking process. Much of this low-stress halter breaking has the same foundation as the techniques used by Richard and Tina. The novice students halter broke 21 heifers that weighed 600-750 lbs in 6 days to lead and stand to be brushed and handled. Most of them were actually broke to lead in about 2 days. Out of ten novice students, who had never done this before, only one got kicked!
Thanks to Richard, Tina and Bub R. for the low-stress methods.
I attended your school in Elizabethtown, KY yesterday, and I just wanted to thank you for a very interesting class. After taking the class, I was able to identify that most of the "traditional" methods that I have been using for handling cattle, as a new farmer, have been wrong. I look forward to putting your methods into use, and if you don't care, I'll keep you posted on my progress from time to time. I wanted to start when I got home last night, but it was a 3 1/2 hr. trip and hard to spot the black cows in the dark. Thanks again for the information.
P.S. I was in the market for buying a crowding tub and all that stuff, but I believe I'll wait now. Thanks for saving me the money.
I have been using the livestock handling techniques you presented and had an interesting experience yesterday at the vets. I took some bulls in to be banded and he has one of those tubs and curved alleys that cattle normally don't want to work well in. I had been working with these cattle some and when I started them toward the chute and they quietly just walked on in, he asked if I had those cattle trained, they never work this good. I told him yes they were trained, but he just laughed; it went right over his head. Change is difficult for everyone to accept. Thanks again.
This last fall I had the opportunity to attend a one-day stockmanship school in Woodward, OK that you taught, and I loved it. Since then, instead of pouring $20 a head worth of Pfizer into them, I have just been doing simple and basic stuff at a lot less money plus I'm exercising my new arrivals twice to three times a day and the results have been great as well as my BPCOG has went down.
Tonight, I had to laugh at my three-year old son who was walking our house cat around the house. My wife asked him what he was doing, and he replied, "I'm exercising Josey (the cat) so she won't get sick."
He gets it! I hope you and Tina get a kick out of it as well. I look forward to seeing Bud in Kansas to learn more. I have already done things with my cattle I never thought would be possible.
Richard and Tina were great. Stress is one of the biggest factors in animal health and weight gain. We have incorporated Bud Williams' techniques into our operation to not only reduce animal and employee stress, but improve the safety and well-being of our two most valuable assets. The class covered many important issues we face every day when working with livestock. The manner in which the material was presented promoted a great deal of discussion, and we look forward to having Richard and Tina back as we continue to educate our employees on the proper way to handle livestock.
I have been around livestock my entire life, and I thought I knew all there was to know about handling livestock. I don't think I could have been more wrong. Richard & Tina have opened up a whole new world to my sons and I when it comes to handling livestock. Our ability to handle livestock properly has improved not only our bottom line but our quality of life. Reducing stress on your livestock and family is a win win situation.
If you ever have a chance to attend one of Richard's and Tina's school do so, it will be the best money you will ever spend.
Thanks!! Richard & Tina for showing this old Missouri farm boy a profitable and better way.
I was at the two day seminar in Burlington, CO. Just wanted to let you know that I have been using some of the techniques that you showed us, and it seems to be working. I've been messing with the 36 head of first calf heifers we received last week, and I believe they would probably fit into the wild category of livestock. After four days of playing with them, I can drive them around with a better than average amount of success. It might be luck but I'll call it some form of success.
Now I am hooked and am anxious to receive our older cows back off of cornstalks so that I can harass them.
Chris, he was with me at the seminar, and I worked on some of his feedlot cattle. This pen would fit into the "don't sneeze wrong" cattle. They had already blown out the backside of the pen the week before we went to your seminar. Anyway, he messed with them a little on Sunday when we got back, and then we moved them out to the working facility to be reimplanted. We were successful without tearing down any fences. Again, might be beginners luck, but looked good to us.
Today I helped a neighbor load out two pots of 750 pound calves and had excellent results. If it were not for the truckers "helping", it would have went a lot smoother. It was neat, in a educational way, to watch the truckers' movement and position and see what a negative effect they had on the calves.
Thank you for your time and help, I can see this having nothing but a positive result on our livestock and the people who are forced to work with me.
Had the opportunity two weeks ago to use our new corral with a 'Bud box'. This is almost embarrassing how good it worked. It took all of about 10 seconds to figure it out. These cows were new from the sale barn, not 'broke' to the system. I can load the alley in seconds by moving less than 3 ft.
After we worked them we loaded them thru the same alley to haul them to another farm. My son commented, "we'll never get'em back thru there." If anything, they went thru better the second time. All the time we were building it, the boys kept telling me it wouldn't work and making plans to retro fit it with a gate in the box. I'm sure my oldest son, who helped that day, is really convinced now. Last week we helped a fellow at Osceola lay out and build a corral. As I was laying out and explaining the 'box' they, were all looking at me pretty funny (remember, I'm used to this, I started managed grazing in the '80s). My son enthusiastically told them how good it worked.
It's so sad how much money and effort go into facilities to compensate for inferior stock handling. Not to mention the untold stress on the stock.
Just another little story. Last week I had a bull get on the neighbor's place. I located him Saturday morning. I went to fetch him back with 2 dogs (Jim and Scot). Basically I let the dogs 'hold' him, and I drove the cows away. Then we just walked him 1/4 mile to the gate, which I had to open while he stood there, took him onto the road and walked him 3/4 mile home. The bad part is, nobody was there to see all this good stock handling by both man and dog! Oh yes, all this took about an hour. I'm sure it could have taken longer if I would of had 4 or 5 cowboys with broken fences, injured livestock and not have gotten him.
If you have the opportunity to attend one of Richard's trainings, do so.
We very much enjoyed your talk on low stress stockmanship at our agricultural education meeting here in Romney, West Virginia. Your more detailed workshop the next morning was also very helpful to our cattle producers. I've already heard from several farmers who had positive results from working their cattle after hearing your talk. We wish you well in your farming efforts and hope to see you back in West Virginia. Take care.
Occasionally something comes along that changes our way of thinking. Low stress animal handling is one of those things. Low stress handling makes us develop a different way of thinking. Here are a few of the changes I've made.
These things (like any change) are hard for many of us to do. I can assure you as I sit here after working my calves this morning that slow is faster, and low stress applies as much to me as to my cattle.
A special thanks for your time and patience in helping me with these changes.
Thanks for speaking about and demonstrating "Stockmanship" to the Top of the Ozarks Grazier Group. Your presentation was well organized and very informative. You can relate to those of us who are in the infancy of improving our stockmanship skills, while at the same time hold the attention of the more advanced stockman. Our group was very impressed with your workshop.
I was pleased to hire Richard McConnell to deliver two low stress handling seminars in Saskatchewan. As his presentation skills are superior, he engaged the audience from the very beginning and carried their interest throughout the entire day. Richard's seminars included a number of excellent videos clips of both he and Bud Williams handling livestock, complimented by interactive discussion.
Attendees of Richard's seminar felt it was very worthwhile and are encouraging us to work with Richard again in the future.
Thanks for speaking to our group about your low stress livestock handling techniques. Your ideas and concepts work great. Several folks in our group have commented on how well so many of the things they learned from you work. You presented your ideas in a very down to earth, common sense manner. Everybody from the more advanced livestock handlers to the beginners were able to learn something from you. The afternoon session in the pasture and corrals was excellent. It was very helpful to actually see the ideas and techniques put to the test working cattle. Thanks again for everything.
When I first heard of rotational grazing, I was very skeptical. Then I tried it! When I first heard of low stress livestock handling, I was very skeptical. Then I tried it.
I watched videos, visited with Richard, even asked Richard for an on farm demonstration. I think he sensed my skepticism. But one very hot August afternoon in weeds high as my head, Richard successfully allowed fifteen steers to enter my corral for medical treatment. Just a fluke you might say. But the next day, I tried the same technique for myself. It worked. Since that time, I have successfully used the low stress cattle handling techniques many times.
Don't be afraid to try new stuff.