Dr. Ron Gill is a longtime extension beef specialist at Texas A&M and he talked about stockmanship at a recent Colorado State seminar. He commented in Beef Magazine that working cattle successfully has a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time. He said that he has used video to go back and look at cattle handling and found that many times he and others were actually in the wrong place when trying to push cattle in a certain direction. Dr. Gill said that if the cattle are not doing what you want them to do, it is likely the people working the cattle are in the wrong spot.
Also, training the cattle is important and most people don’t think about this. We train dogs and horses but we don’t think about training cattle and they have to be trained to go in the pen or chute where and when we want them to go. Flow is important when working cattle and when you put pressure on the cattle and walk towards them, a lot of times they will circle you to keep an eye on what you are doing. To get the flow started, it is best to get the cattle at the front of the group started moving in the direction you want rather than trying to push all of them from the rear. Once you get the cattle in the front moving in the direction you want, it is much easier to get the rest of the cattle to follow. So instead of pushing cattle out of a pen and into the alley, you are actually drawing them into the area you want them in. This also helps with loading into a trailer as this will work the same as moving them into an alley and chute as it is all about pressure and release.