Moving stock in the paddock

cattleyoungThis is usually very easy as you use their “mobbing” instinct where they move together for security. All you need to do is to walk quietly around a group or mob while talking or calling them. Dairy cows respond to this best and will generally come to meet you at the gate.

If you have a dog that barks on command, then that’s usually all that’s needed. Animals that are slow or reluctant to move will do so if you walk up to them. You may have to do this with a firm determined action to let them know that YOU are the dominant animal inside their flight or fight zone.

Most stockpersons today are on a bike or ATV (quad) and often approach stock at far too great a speed. Care is needed as you don’t want to bump and injure animals and remember the bike is not a safe place if a bull attacks you. It has the strength to upend the machine on top of you.

But remember the single animal differs greatly from the mob and will need much more skill to drive it where you want it to go. It may also not respect your intrusion and attack, especially if it sees you on its territory. At the first sign of the animal showing signs of stress or threat – back away and seek help.

Groups of bulls are prone to “mob action” and anything strange in their environment can start a threatening, riding, fighting session in which you may be caught up.

In a mob of bulls individuals will vary greatly in personality and there will be one or two individuals that are potentially more dangerous having fought their way up the social order to be very dominant. They’ll be easy to identify as they’ll come out of the mob towards you roaring and threatening first. Keep an eye on these at all times.

Mobs of beef cows with young calves can be dangerous too, as they see your presence as a threat. They are very wary of dogs so keep dogs well out of the way and in full control. They will regularly attack the dog and you may be part of the action if the dog moves to you for security and they are not used to seeing humans on foot. The blaring of a young calf can trigger off an attack.

When tagging beef calves in the paddock, always let the cow see its calf, and if possible keep one hand around the calf’s jaw to stop it blaring. It’s likely that it will roar with the pain of the tag going through its ear- so be prepared for that moment.

Never turn your back on the cow and keep any dogs well away from the scene until finished. You are better in an open area that backed into a corner or against a fence. Sometimes a well-trained dog can be a very useful diversion to take the cow’s attention until you get the calf tagged. The cow may chase the dog for some distance before she comes back to find her calf that you have just released.

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