Blending the art of low stress stockmanship with the science of planned biological grazing

Economical and practical reasons for using reduced stress cattle handling methods

Possibly the most economical for a cattle producer to increase their profit is by using cattle handling methods which reduce stress on your cattle. Articles have been written by Dr. Temple Grandin of the University of Colorado and livestock handling expert Bud Williams showing that by reducing stress on cattle during handling that gains in feedlots can increase by a half pound a day, medical costs can be cut in half, and packer discounts for bruises and dark cutters can also be significantly reduced. This is added money producers could be making without any cash outlay. It can also add money to the pockets of cow/calf and yearling outfits.
    For every 0.5% shrink you prevent at branding you are making an “extra” $0.40 per calf at $0.80 calves. Saving another  0.5% shrink while making a pasture move when the calves are at 200 pounds amounts to another $0.80 per calf. Save another 0.5% when weaning 500 pound calves and you have just made another $2.00 per head for a total of $3.20 per head at $0.80 calves. Some years this “extra” cash can be the difference between operating at a profit or loss.
    To give an example of just how handling can affect your gains, I will use a yearling operation I worked for in the early 80’s. The ranch was running 2,200 head of yearling steers subleasing the pasture to another owner. We moved the steers twice in addition to shipping, and my boss (an ex-crop duster) figured it was quicker and “cheaper” to gather the pastures with an airplane than to hire extra help. On one pasture move the boss had something come up and it slipped his mind. I decided to go out and gather the 478 steers myself. Starting at the back of the 3 section pasture and throwing one bunch into the other I managed to get the job done in one day. There was basically no difference between all of the pastures, yet this one group of steers averaged 7.5 pounds more than the rest of the steers. Multiplying the 7.5 pounds time the number of moves (3) you come up with a total of 22.5 pounds per animal he ran off in the name of saving money. The total this cost on the 1,192 steers we shipped would have been 26,820 pounds. The prices at that time were around $0.75 so in essence he spent $20,115 in order to save a couple of hundred dollars hiring extra help, which really wasn't needed other than when we shipped. Based on today's prices of over $2 a pound, that same situation would amount to  $53640 of "extra" profit without spending an extra penny!

Academia and government agencies are also finally recognizing that it is possible to increase your grass and forage production by changing the way we graze, which in turn increases our carrying capacity, as well as our bottom line.