Friday, April 7, 2017

Is it really "Just what cows do?"

  "Thats just what cows do."

I first heard those words uttered when I was ten years old, after asking why cattle scatter out to graze, rather than grazing as a group like the sheep and goats did. Fifty three years later I am still hearing those same words repeated ad infinitum.  This phrase is used to describe everything from grazing patterns, to the way cattle handle (or don't handle,) or why cattle don't pair up, to why cattle crawl through fences and why they are so wild.

   This phrase is ignores the fact that these behaviors only apply to the situation the cattle are in, rather than cattle in general. Cattle behavior is directly linked to their environment. Our behavior in handling them is one of the biggest environmental factors to cattle behavior, yet it is also the last one we look at. Also, much of our beliefs on cattle behavior is dependent upon how, when, and the number of groups of cattle we observe.

How...All to often we limit our of observation of cattle to the cursory once over without really thinking about how the cattle are behaving...after all, they are behaving "normally," so why look any deeper? As long as cattle are not walking the pasture, or distributing behavior we deem to be irregular, we don't give it a second thought. If we are not observing and asking ourselves what the motivation is behind what they are doing, we aren't learning why they are doing it.

When...The time of day is going to have something to do with how the cattle are behaving. One observation we seldom make, is how do cattle behave when they are going to water, or back out to graze. Most of us are used to our cows calling to their calves when we start a move, and look at that as a thing that "good cows just do." If we would take the time to observe cattle as they are leaving water on their own, we would see that these same cows seldom call for their calves.

Now, if we change how we are observing the cattle, and combine our two observations, we might ask ourselves why their behavior is different. Hopefully, we will also recognize that the difference in behavior is stress related, and ask ourselves if there is anything we can do differently to alleviate this behavior.

Numbers of groups...I am talking people as well as cattle. If we work with the same cattle constantly, and the same people, or people who work in the same way, it clouds our knowledge. We think of the behavior of cattle as simply "thats what cattle do" and forget that cattle are only reacting directly to what we are doing. When we change our behavior, they will change theirs.

Be sure and visit my website for more information on regenerative grazing, cattle behavior, and stockmanship schools.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cowboys Are "Unskilled Labor?" Think Again!

A lot of people don't think that being a cowboy is a skilled job. Think again...It isn't simply riding around on a horse (in nice weather) playing your guitar and singing cowboy songs. In reality, to be a really good cowboy you have to be at least semi proficient in several areas at once, including (but not limited to)   the following areas:
1) Veterinarian ($60k per year)
2) Horse trainer ($ 700 per month per horse)
3) Farrier ($70 to over $200 per horse shod)
4) Ecologist/range manager (50K and up)
5) Being able to move several hundred cows with no help (when the average person can't handle their 5 year old kid at WalMart)
6) Plumber ($40 an hour)
7) Electrician ($40 an hour)
For books to convince your kid why they shouldn't be a cowboy (or date one) or video on how to be a better cowboy vist the 2lazy4U Livestock & Literary Company!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Contacts For Fire Relief In Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas

Spring and fire season is getting off to a horrendous start. Lives, livestock and houses have been lost. Fire season hasn't really started yet and it has been reported that over 300,000 acres have gone up smoke between the Texas Panhandle, Western Oklahoma and Kansas. These communities are really needing help, so here is a list of places to drop off supplies, hay, food and to make donations.


Livestock Supply Points

The following livestock supply points are currently receiving and distributing donated feed resources to producers impacted by wildfires. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) is not involved in the donation or distribution process. FSA is, however, raising awareness of the supply point locations where resources are available to producers located in counties affected by wildfires.
301 Bull Barn Dr
Pampa, TX 
202 West Main St
Lipscomb, TX

Texas Department of Agriculture Hay Hotline

TDA's hay hotline helps agricultural producers locate forage and hay supplies for sale. If you need hay or would like to donate hay, visit or call 877-429-1998.

Carcass Disposal

For questions about carcass disposal call the Texas Commission on Environment Quality (TCEQ) at 800-832-8224 or visit their website at

If you would like to donate to this relief effort, you can do so by mail or online. Make checks payable to Oklahoma Cattlemen's Foundation and put "Fire Relief" in the memo line and send to P.O. Box 82395, Oklahoma City, OK 73148. To donate online, visit
If you would like to donate hay or trucking services for hay, you can do so by contacting either the Harper County Extension Office at 580-735-2252 or Buffalo Feeders at 580-727-5530 to make arrangements or provide trucking services.

The command center for coordination of people to receive or give help is Ashland Veterinary Center. Dr. Randall Spare is heading this up. The number for people to call is 620-635-2641. Anybody in the Ashland area that needs help should please call the veterinary clinic. Also, anybody heading to Ashland to help, please call the clinic so we get people to the places of need.
The second center is coordinating hay delivery for cattle. The Neal and Jeff Kay at Ashland Feed and Seed is coordinating this effort and all hay deliveries should go to them at 1975 County Road U, Ashland, Kansas (on the south end of Main Street on the south end of town). The number to call before heading out is 785-273-5115.

Donations should be taken to CHS Grainland in Haxtun. A loader and scale are both available, if needed. Contact Rick Unrein 970-520-3565 for more information about dropping off donations. Donations can also be dropped off at Justin Price's farm (11222 CR 7 Sedgwick, CO). For more information, please contact: Kent Kokes 970-580-8108, John Michal 970-522-2330, or Justin Price 970-580-6315.
For more information on how to donate and aid these producers please visit
Checks payable to Colorado Farm Bureau Foundation, cash and credit card payments are being accepted at this time. Please note Disaster Fund-CO Wildfire in the memo line on the check. Cash and checks can be sent to:
Colorado Farm Bureau Foundation
Attn: Disaster Fund
9177 E. Mineral Circle
Centennial, CO 80112

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Booking Dates for 2017 Low Stress Stockmanship Schools

     Unlike most other low stress stockmanship schools, these are designed to let the students see, and take part in changing cattle behavior from grazing in small groups, to grazing together as a herd. This means the schools are five days long, At the end of the school, everyone has enough of a grasp on the different ways to start, turn and stop cattle with the least amount of stress possible.  
The days begin by saddling up and being in the cattle shortly after sunup and not leaving them until after they have been placed on their afternoon grazing placement. Between discussion, demonstration, doing, observing the attitude, behavioral changes and discussing that, students generally achieve enough understanding to actually start applying it when they go home.

  Because of the intensity of the classes, and the fact we are holding them in the pasture, rather than a smaller more controlled area, class size is limited to ten riders. Experience (in both attending and holding schools) has taught me it isn't a good idea for managers and owners to send employees without attending themselves. Too often cowboys feel they are being forced to learn something which they feel they already know. By management also attending, they are leading by example, which helps their crew want to learn, and allows management to know if the crew is correctly performing the stockmanship changes. 

If you are interested in hosting a school in Mexico, contact Pedro Dominguez on Facebook. For schools in the USA and other countries email me. By inviting other ranches to attend, the overall cost will often be lower than attending a two day school with no hands on experience. For more information on what the methods are, visit my website or order my stockmanship video on Amazon. In the meantime, enjoy the teaser and trailer to the video below to get an idea of what you will learn in the school.



Friday, January 27, 2017

Stockmanship 101 Now Availible on Amazon!

Thanks to those who supported the project, the English version of Stockmanship 101 (rebooting herd instinct)  is now available on Amazon. This video was premiered at last week's school at Rancho Terrenates in Chihuahua, Mexico, where some students actually watched it a second time. It was also well received at a short seminar in Chihuahua City, Mexico where several students from my first school at Rancho De Las Damas were in attendance. Humbling to know that such a high percentage of those you teach are able to carry on the concepts when they get home!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Climate Change; Man Made or Assisted by Man?

Most of the debate around manmade climate change revolves around whether or not the activities of man are responsible for climate change. It would seem the whole discussion needs to be reframed to look at man assisted climate change. We also need to re-examine the presumed man assisted causes, as well as differentiate, symptoms, causes and ways to minimize, and in some cases reverse the symptoms.

For some reason most of those researching climate change (in any form) are concentrating on greenhouse gasses and carbon dioxide levels. The "solutions" rest on things like regulating emissions by prohibition, trading "carbon credits" or taxation. Even causes stemming from land use seemingly concentrate on more gasses, with no thought to the condition of the land contributing to either rising oceans. It seems as if little or no thought is given to the conditions of the earth's surface in contributing to warming, changing weather patterns, contributing to flooding,  nor to rising ocean levels.

The possibility of regenerating grasslands has been largely ignored,  even though it reduces heat reflected into the atmosphere, captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, returns rainfall to aquifers, while increasing wildlife habitat and providing animal protein for human consumption.

Desertification of land is looked at as a symptom of warming, when it is actually a symptom of misuse, while at the same time, a cause of both atmospheric warming, and rising oceans. Completely ignored is just how fast desertification has happened in some places.

 To keep historical perspective, lets look at history in the terms of lifetimes. There has always been a few people living over 100 years. This would mean that, by cherry picking the right people, it has only been 20 lifetimes since Jesus Christ walked the earth. On a more personal level, my Great Great Grandmother was alive at the time of the Civil War and died in 1963 when I was 9 years old. Between the beginning of her life, and my life of 60+ years, we have seen the vast grasslands of the southwest United States and northern Mexico become barren deserts.  There are actually ranchers alive today who remember harvesting native grass hay in areas which are now mainly brushy and bare ground. Just how much of a difference can this make in changing our climate?

To demonstrate just how much the lack of grass cover reflects heat back into the atmosphere, I checked the air temperature, then checked the temperature on a patch of grass, and also a path of bare ground.
  Notice that the grass covered area is approximately eleven degrees warmer than the air while the bare ground is twenty five degrees warmer than air temperature.

A couple of hours later, the air temperature was 95 degrees. Rather than checking the temperature of the grassy spot first, we checked that same spot of bare ground, which was hot enough that it broke the thermometer. That would mean that the ground temperature was actually a minimum of 25 degrees warmer than the air temperature.

Adding to the heat absorption/reflection difference between bare ground and grass covered ground is the difference in water absorption. Rather than rain water absorbing into the ground (as it does when grasslands are intact,) precipitation actually starts running off with as little as 0.2 inches of rain. This means that a thunderstorm dropping an inch of water, loses half of aquifer recharge to run off. This run off goes into gullies, into small streams, river and lost into the ocean. This amounts to  13,577 gallons per acre run into the ocean from a one inch rain. In a drought like our most recent, where some areas only received 4 inches of precipitation, they lost 54,308 gallons of water per acre. There is roughly 293,000,000 acres of desertified ground between the southwestern United States and northern Mexico which have been degraded to this point. This results in 15,912,244,000,000 gallons of water returning to the oceans rather than recharging aquifers, in a year of severe drought. In a year of 10 inches (still just below normal of 11 to 12 inches of precipitation) we are looking at 135771.4 per acre (or 39,781,020,200,000 gallons for the region) flowing into the ocean rather than recharging aquifers. Take into consideration, this 39,781,020,200,000 gallons is only part of the water flowing back into the ocean rather than the ground on part of ONE continent. This isn't even taking into consideration of the addition of paved ground. 
 The first mile of asphalt paving was laid out in 1920 on Woodward Avenue, in Detroit Michigan.  Since then, asphalt and concrete paving has covered an estimated 29,000 square miles, or 18,560,000 acres. Taking into consideration that there are some roads in the country which the water ists in the bar ditch without emptying into a creek or river which eventually ends in the world's oceans, lets (for the sake of a conservative estimate) assume that only a third of our paved areas are draining directly into the ocean. That still leaves us with 6,186,666 acres of paved ground sending water into the oceans at a rate of 27154 gallons per inch of rain. This amounts to 16,7992,728,564 gallons running straight into the oceans per each inch of rain falling on our paved areas. In a drought year of only 6 inches of rain average across the country that comes up to an astounding 1,007,956,371,384 from our country alone from the addition of paved surfaces.

The combination of these two sources of water returning to the oceans rather than into the soil and replenishing aquifers comes to  a "mere" 5,658,029,305,640 gallons of water returning to the oceans from the United States and Mexico alone. Some will be quick to point out that a more accurate figure would be achieved by subtracting the acres of paved acres from the total of desertified areas, but this total would still be low when one figures out what has been left out of these figures.
The grasslands in the rest of the western half of the United States, while not considered to be desertified, have less than half their grass cover compared to the late 1800's, which is adding an a untold amount of water to the oceans. This is still not taking into account flood control systems, like the levee system on the Mississippi River which are adding more water rather than allowing it to spread out and fertilize the delta lands.  The total would certainly be result in an increase to  the 5,658,029,305,640 gallons in these figures. The worldwide total of water running back into the oceans rather than aquifers would dwarf what runs off from North America... Yet this is seemingly not taken into consideration by scientists studying climate change and rising oceans. A very few scientists are actually looking at the either the warming affects of these two things, nor the ramifications of reversing desertification through regenerative grazing.

In order for science to really get a grip on solving the problems of climate change, they need to ask a few more questions.

  1. How much are precipitation flows being affected by the millions of acres of desertified land and the heat rising from them? 
  2. How would the precipitation patterns change if grasslands were regenerated worldwide?
  3. How much is atmospheric temperature being affected by the combination of paved surfaces and desertified land?
  4. How much atmospheric carbon in the atmosphere would be sequestered by regenerating grasslands worldwide? 
  5. How much water would flow into aquifers rather than the oceans if grasslands were to be restored?
  6.  How much more animal protein could be added to the food supply by the increase in animals needed to restore and maintain grasslands through the proper grazing methods needed to restore them?
Until the scientific community starts acknowledging these things, and using them in computer models, how accurate can they really be? How can these scientists convince climate change deniers unless they acknowledge and differentiate between those events occurring naturally which change change climate, and the manmade things which assist the acceleration of changing climate? Until such time as these questions are addressed, and so long as the majority of the "solutions" are based on taxation, fines, and other financially inert things such as  trading carbon credits, a true solution will not be found.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Leaving Commodity Markets Behind

 A few weeks ago I wrote about the hypocrisy of current cattle markets and world hunger. Actually it is the hypocrisy of the commodities market and world hunger. Governments and organizations dealing with poverty, along with the media,  are constantly spreading the fear of not being able to produce enough food to feed the world. If all of these governments and organizations (which collectively collect and disperse hundreds of billions of dollars annually to fight the problem) are so dedicated then why were American dairy producers forced to dump forty three millions gallons of milk in the fist ten months of 2016 from "over production?"  Why is it that American produce farmers are forced to take "excess" produce to landfills while supermarkets have the identical produce on their shelves, from other countries? Last (but not least) why are American ranchers receiving less money for their calf crop than they did in 1979 (reportedly from "over production") while we are importing beef from other countries?

These are all fallacies caused by prices being set at the CME without any basis given to the cost of production, and the myth "we'" are in a global economy. If commodity prices would have kept track with inflation, $1.25 calves in 1979 should be $4.16 according to the CPI inflation calculator.  So is there a way to get out from under the CME so ranchers can start receiving a price which reflects the inflation over the last thirty seven years? Yes, in fact some ranchers already are.

Some use organizations like the Grass Fed Network or Homegrown Cow, while others do their own marketing locally, selling directly to the consumer. Others manage to sell their cattle locally at above market prices, with delivery to a local slaughterhouse. Some, such as White Oak Pastures, have gone the extra mile and actually built their own processing plant. However many cattle producers are too far removed from from dense enough populations to market directly to the consumer.

In order to enable all producers to circumvent the CME price fix, the NCBA needs to be abolished, or at the very least, restructured. For those thinking the NCBA is helping cattle producers, and that the beef checkoff program really adds $11 a head to the value of your cattle, why are you receiving less money now than in 1979? In fact, when you allow for inflation, the prices of two weeks ago producers were paid $2.95 a pound less than pre-checkoff prices.

The new organization would require both cattle and feed producers to file their cost of production. Farmers providing feed would be paid on the average cost of production plus a percentage of profits. The formula for cattle producers would need to be a bit more complex. There would be a base price of the average price of production, plus percentage for profit, with the option to retain part, or all of their calves all the way to wholesale, if not retail, and be paid on hide and offal as well.

The new association would need to lobby congress to assure that the packers cannot import beef unless there is an actual shortage of US produced beef.  Furthermore,  the tariff on imported beef would put the packers price on imported beef at a level to be even with beef produced in the USA.

This is just a bare bones proposal which beef producers need to discuss before we go the way of sheep producers...just think of when the last time you saw lamb in a store which wasn't a product of New Zealand.