Profit Tips: Management - Ten keys to good stockmanship

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Good stockmanship benefits animal welfare, animal health and the working environment for cattle handlers, and Texas AgriLife Extension specialist Ron Gill, PhD, is putting the concepts to practice as he demonstrates stockmanship concepts to ranchers and cattle feeders.

Gill defines stockmanship as the handling of cattle with the intent of enhancing profitability through:

• Improving consumer confidence that cattlemen are good stewards of livestock;
• Improving safety of animals as well as handlers by working with the natural instincts of cattle during handling; and
• Using low-stress handling techniques to enhance animal health and assure a higher response to medicines.

Gill teaches that effective stockmanship is based on four basic principles of cattle behavior: Cattle want to see you, go around you, go to and be around other cattle and can only think of one thing at a time.

He promotes these 10 keys to effective cattle handling:

1. The only way to work cattle quickly is slowly.
2. Work from the front to draw cattle to you.
3. Apply pressure when cattle have a place to go.
4. Pressure from the side.
5. Cattle must be comfortable to go by you and stay straight.
6. Pressure cattle from behind only when absolutely necessary.
7. When working cattle, move in straight lines and triangles.
8. Going with the flow of cattle slows them down or stops their movement.
9. Going against the flow of cattle initiates or accelerates their movement.
10. Cattle work best when they are ready — you have to get them there.

For more information, visit Gill’s website at

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