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'Cattle whisperer' shares livestock handling tips

Low-stress cattle handling helps producers raise healthier animals and improve farm operations
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Lori Sorenson

A “Low Stress Cattle Handling Seminar” in Rock County Tuesday morning showed area livestock producers new techniques for moving animals.
Sponsored by the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program, stockmanship expert Curt Pate was at BlacX Farms in Beaver Creek Township to demonstrate better ways to handle livestock.
The first thing to know about cattle, he said, is that they’re not human and don’t behave like humans, who tend to follow each other, one in front of another, like in rush hour traffic.
That doesn’t work with cattle, which get defensive if a human is directly behind them.
"Once we understand that, we need to learn how to put the correct pressure on at the correct time to get our animals to work for us in a way that they are not overly stressed and get better with each interaction," said Pate, who has been referred to as a “cattle whisperer.”
He said humans have been training horses and dogs for years, so cattle training should be natural.
Pete Bakken, who operates BlacX Farms with his brother Jay Bakken, said the seminar is worthwhile for all livestock farmers.
“He teaches people how to — instead of yelling and being aggressive with cattle — work with the disposition of animals to get them to go where you want them to go,” Pete said.
He said the training is one more way farmers can improve their practices and their image among a public that’s heavily influenced by animal rights groups.
“This is just another step in the right direction to take better care of our animals and produce a better product for the consumer,” Pete said.
Jay Bakken, who serves on the Minnesota Beef Council, said it’s important to take time to hear Pate’s message. “It’s worth doing for the betterment of the industry on the local level and as a whole.”
When handling cattle for vaccinations, insemination or other sorting reasons, he said Pate’s techniques could go a long way toward improving those practices if the animals aren’t panicked or worked up in the process.
Ag professionals from the tri-state area attended Tuesday’s event at Bakken Farms.
The BQA program also sponsored Pate’s presentation this week in Chandler, Minnesota; Jamestown, Fargo and Carrington, North Dakota; and Parker, Brookings and Florence, South Dakota.
BQA is a 25-year-old program that provides industry standards and guidelines for beef cattle production.

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