Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Taking Cattle Through Gates

Last week I covered starting and moving your cattle in a way which instills herd instinct in your cattle. Taking cattle through gates can either be one of the easiest things we can do with our cattle or one of the most stressful things we can do to our cattle, and ourselves.

Too many people tend to wait to open the gate until all of the cattle have reached the gate. This results in the cattle being forcibly crowded up to the fence. This creates stress on the cattle as they do not like to be forced together. When we are moving pairs this assures that the cattle will not be paired once they are through the gate. If we can have the gate open before the cattle get there, it is a simple matter of pointing them towards the gate without stopping the motion.

If the motion does stop, the only two things we need to work on is keeping the everything pointing towards the gate, and getting the cattle at the front to go through without pushing from the back. When you do this properly all of the cattle will go together, strung out as a herd naturally moves. Once they start through, the lead may pick up speed and may even run and play a bit. As long as they are headed in the right direction there is nothing to worry about as they tend to slow down on their own.

The two hundred steers in the following video had only been on the place a week. The only other time I had moved them was taking them from the pens where they had been unloaded, to this pasture. Not only was this the first time they had been through this gate, the pup I was using is deaf, and I didn't have a shock collar. Needless to say she made a few mistakes (to put it mildly) but the steers still all made it through the gate, and acted as a herd once they went through.

Taking cattle through a gate in the middle of a fence is actually easier than taking them through a gate in a corner. Take the cattle to a point a hundred yards to either side of the gate and have them turn down the fence towards the gate. Ride along, or just in front of the lead animals. When you reach the gate, simply get in front of the lead animals and position yourself so that the lead will go around and by you. They will see the gate and go through easily.