Low-stress cattle handling will be the focus of four free workshops planned in Idaho in April.
The Stockmanship and Stewardship seminars, a program of the National Cattlemen's Association, will feature clinician Curt Pate of Ryegate, Mont.
The cattle-handling demonstration will cover low-stress techniques to keep in mind when working cattle on foot, on horseback and chute side, said Jackie Owens, Idaho Beef Quality Assurance program coordinator.
BQA, University of Idaho extension educators, Idaho Beef Council, and allied industry are collaborating to bring the workshops to Idaho producers.
The program promotes good stockmanship by understanding the principals of animal behavior, Pate said.
The seminar will address proper handling through sorting, weighing and processing and proper handling of pairs. Less stress results in less illness and a better quality product.
"Everybody has certain skills, but there's always room to improve," he said. "Most people, kind of, are doing what we're talking about."
The biggest thing stockman do wrong is following cattle. That's stressful to the animals because they can't see the handler, he said.
It's a matter of looking at it from the cattle's perspective, but humans follow their own patterns and instincts for survival. They keep any threats in plain sight. They stand in lines and drive behind other cars, he said.
"That's the opposite of what we should do with cattle. You can change just a little bit, and it makes a big difference," he said.
Handling stock properly has both a social and economic benefit, and it's the right thing to do, he said. It more positively represents the industry to the public, and it's more profitable for the rancher.
"Right now, the public is real concerned about how our animals are raised," he said.
A Montana rancher, Pate has been giving horse- and cattle-handling clinics for 10 years, but now focuses on cattle.
Growing up in the auction business and then announcing rodeos might have given him an edge as a clinician.
"There's a lot of great stockman in the world, but not all can talk about it in ways people can understand," he said.
Producers can register for the seminar online at www.uidaho.edu/extension or by calling Owens at 208-454-7654.
-- Carol Ryan Dumas
Lewiston: April 13, Round-up Ground
Homedale: April 14, Badiola Arena
Twin Falls: April 15, College of Southern Idaho
Blackfoot: April 16, Eastern Idaho State Fairgrounds