Gathering Cattle For Spring Branding

posted by Stran

Gathering cattle and getting them to the pens easily is the most important part of spring branding. One great benefit of feeding your cows protein cubes through the winter is they are used to coming to you, or the way we refer to it is sooking. I keep my own heifers as replacements, so my calves learn from their mothers on how to sook. The better animal husbandry you have with your cow herd, from feeding to sooking, can be the difference between having an enjoyable experience gathering or a clustered day from hell! An example of good husbandry is how comfortable your cows are around people, horses, and your pens. One bad experience with any of these elements I’m talking about can negate years in a matter of minutes. No matter how experienced of a cattleman you are you will always have a few cows that have a tendency to be a little ringy. This is when its important in your culling process to get rid of these few cows. As the saying goes one bad apple can ruin the whole barrel.

If your gathering a big pasture and you have rough country like we do with a lot of tress and canyons and your sight is limited its very important that your hands have a good idea of the geography of the land. Examples, where fences are, where you can and cant cross, where cattle graze and where they don’t graze, where your water tanks are, and so on. Everybody needs to be on the same page as far as the sweep that you make. Everybody needs to be in line form and needs to be spaced and distanced from each other, much like a fan sweeping through a pasture. If you have kids helping you out make sure you have them in between some experienced hands. Its important when the visibility is limited is to be able to holler where everyone can be able to hear. Well now days we have cell phones, and I am guilty of using my cell phone out there, but still you need to be able to find the high points to see where you’re at and where everybody else is. Main thing is, be awake and pay attention! Another thing you have to watch out for when you’re bringing on hands, especially if they are a professional roper, tell them to leave their rope tied to the horn. Its a common known thing when a cowboy gets his rope down he turns into a monkey. And I’ve never seen too many monkeys that have made good cow hands. Now I’ve seen a lot of monkeys that have made your cows silly, so keep that in mind when you’re hiring your hands. I always laugh and joke that I had to make the national finals five times before they even let me carry a rope in the pasture. Not really, but it was definitely frowned upon whenever I pulled my rope out.

The closer you get your cattle to the pens, the margin for error is smaller. Most of your cows, after they’ve been penned a time or two, realize whats going on as they approach the pens. So its important for everyone to ride up and not leave any gaps. Its real important to not let anything break away from the herd. When this happens you run the risk of losing the whole herd, therefore the day from hell has just begun.If you miss them or they get away, then you’ve done everything for not. I had no idea all the thought and preparation that went into working cattle when i was a kid because my dad and granddad always took care of it. They would talk about it for days, weeks and sometimes months before they would have the roundup. Now that I’m “shootin the pills” I have so much more of an appreciation of what my Dad and Granddad did and how they were able to make it look effortless and run so smooth.


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