Training tips and techniques

A few people have asked for the education process of stock from when you make first contact with them. These pregnancy tested heifers were purchased at a sale two weeks ago. I have no idea of how they have been handled other than they were originally purchased from Queensland and then grown out and joined to an Angus bull in NSW. They appeared to have good temperaments – a few were a bit runny when approached on foot and as a mob they would run when approached in a paddock. I’ve calmly worked them in the yards to drench and vaccinate and slipped around them on foot half a dozen times in the paddock over the past fortnight to get a bit of trust in them. This is the first time I have started the education process with a dog. My simple aim to start with is to get them to move off a dog and pull up with a dog. I like to do it in a large yard, but the yards are far too wet at present, so we walked them into the corner of a paddock and used a fence for this process. They were quite reluctant to walk off a dog to start with, but that should change over the next one or two sessions. I like to do it calmly as it’s doesn’t take much to make brahmans run if you go too hard or fast. It’s just how I’ve been taught to do it and what I find effective. If it is of any interest I will post some video of their progress after a couple more sessions.
I recently posted an initial education introduction to some heifers I had purchased a couple of weeks back. I wasn’t planning on doing a second session with them until our paddocks dried out after over half a metre of rain in over the past week, but needed them shifted this morning. Here I’ve just used a couple of sheep dogs for this second session and a fence line that I feel helps in early education through extra containment of the cattle. They are moving off the dogs a bit more freely than session 1 with a single dog. I have sent the dogs to block the lead only when a lead animal(s) get into a trot or gallop. It isn’t perfect, but considering the water-laided ground and heavy wet stock, I was happy enough with the result. Once things dry out a bit I will do another few sessions and we will hopefully see even further improvement. No doubt others will find fault in it, but the system works for me and helps me achieve premium prices for the cattle I trade plus compliant, easy to handle breeders that I retain.
We hadn’t completed the education of these bought-in heifers when they started to calve. So we just carry on with the education process as they calve. So many people think that working cows with calves at foot is a problem that needs hard dogs and big fights. I prefer to use calm dogs and avoid conflict – particularly when most of the education has been done on the mothers…avoid stressing our stock whenever possible. These heifers will be combined with a few other similar sized mobs that have been handled similarly and shifting them wet or dry will always be a pleasure – no matter the numbers.
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