Curt Pate Discusses Positive Stockmanship TechniquesFri, 28 Sep 2012 17:48:08 CDT
Curt Pate from South Dakota is well-known for low-stress cattle handling. He was recently in Oklahoma to conduct a seminar sponsored by the Oklahoma Beef Council. Pate runs a custom grazing operation and is partners with his daughter in a bucking bull business. He works with cattle-some gentle, some not so gentle--constantly. Pate says he backed into offering seminars in cattle handling.
"Well, I started out in the horse world. And I was doing a lot of colt-starting demonstrations and everybody thinks of me as a horse guy, but I'm not a horse guy. I'm a cattle guy that uses horses. And I believe in the ranching background, the lifestyle, but I'm a horseback guy that uses the horse for cattle.
"I always wanted to have more cattle handling stuff involved in the public demonstrations, but it kind of slowly evolved into some ranch roping stuff and some cattle handling and it really just blossomed from there."
He said the core of his work is attempting to show cattle producers how to take advantage of some of the natural instincts of cattle.
"A lot of people call this low-stress livestock handling and that's kind of a pretty term, a nice term, but that doesn't really do anything for me. I think effective stockmanship is what I try to call it. And, to be effective, you have to be good and get things done. And do things in a way that doesn't create a lot of turmoil with our customers or our cattle or anybody. So, what we have to do is figure out the principles of what makes it work. There are certain things you can do to make cattle work well and there are certain things you can do that don't make them work well. And that's what I try to get people to understand."
He says one of the key principles is knowing how to apply the right pressure in the right places at the right times to get the cattle to do what you want them to do.
Pate says that a lot of cattlemen have learned to use sound and touch to move animals and those aren't very efficient modes of action. He says a cattlemen's presence, his visibility, and how he approaches the animal are much more efficient. By placing himself in the animal's "pressure zone" or "focus point" he can give the animal subtle cues to affect its behavior.
"This means I try to understand how the cow sees me, how the eye works of the cow, and where to place myself with so the animal doesn't turn its head wrong, moves away straight, all these kinds of things."
Facilities are important Pate says.
"Having good facilities is a responsible thing to do. But how much facilities you can have and still remain profitable is important, too. So, the higher the level our stockmanship becomes, the less we depend on facilities. I think you need an absolutely good chute, whether it be a hydraulic or good manual chute and a good lead up and facilities working into the chute. After that, everything's a bonus."
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear the full interview as Pate goes into great detail on his handling techniques.
Curt Pate talks stockmanship with Ron Hays.
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