Five steps to contented cattle
Over many years, Goondicum Pastoral Co has painstakingly refined a five-stage process to produce contented cattle. We constantly update techniques and protocols when a better idea comes along.
- It all starts from the time young calves first visit the yards. They are handled with great care and patience to ensure no bad experiences will be locked away in their memories. Calves are quietly worked through the yards with their mothers. The occasional feisty calf needs extra patience.
- Weaning is critical in a calf’s mental development. Once calves are taken for weaning they return to the yard complex, familiar to them from when were younger. It’s crucial to make weaning as low-stress as possible by giving feeds of high-quality lucerne hay and splitting them into smaller groups of about 50. They are fed morning and night with hay racks and plenty of hand-feeding so they become comfortable around people. Hand-feeding weaners results in quiet cattle that are less stressed around humans.
Once weaners have settled in and are eating well (about five days), they start ‘lessons’ where they are educated in using the stockyards. Staff spend hours with weaners every morning, patiently working them until they become familiar with the yards, structures and processes. This means less stress when cattle need to come into the yards for worming or vet work.
- After a week of lessons, staff start tailing the weaners out on horseback into smaller paddocks every morning so they can free-range graze and have plenty of time outside the yards. Late in the afternoon they are mustered back into the safety of the stockyard complex and given more hay.
- After a few weeks of this, the weaners are moved into large groups of up to 100 that are mustered daily. This can be done on foot because by this stage they are very placid.
- Once they are content with the process, the weaners can be sent to their paddocks to free-range graze. Working dogs that are quiet and soft-natured will not stress the cattle. These dogs fulfil an important role in working cattle and establishing their trust. Stockyards and crushes are custom designed to ensure cattle can be worked with minimal stress and reduced injuries. To optimise quietness, stock are culled heavily for temperament.