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  • Writer's pictureMary Kate MacKenzie

Catching Cows

With less than two inches of rain last month, we are experiencing a moderate drought. Our animals perform well in the dry weather but it hurts the grass.

A few years ago, we built a new corral to make catching cows safer and easier. We appreciate the design every time we sort cows. The layout incorporates insights from animal behavior research to create a handling system that is easy for one person to operate and uses cow psychology to make the animals go where we want. The cows get lots of practice moving through the corral in July for breeding, so they get used to it.

Last night we had to catch the herd to sort out a little bull and a heifer. We have a laneway running down the center of the farm that leads the cows from their current paddock to the corral. Here you can see Leith and Gunny working together to push the herd from the laneway into the corral.

Once all the animals are inside the corral with the gates closed, Gunny’s work is done. Leith goes into the corral with the cows and slowly moves the animals he wants to catch up toward the front. There is a blue water trough in one corner of the corral so the animals can get a drink while they are waiting.

There are several gates inside the corral that are useful for sorting groups of cows and keeping them separate from the other cows. Here Leith is standing by the final gate between the corral and the Bud Box. A handful of cows are walking into the Bud Box, including the two he wants to catch.

Leith lets the extra cows out of the Bud Box to rejoin the larger group, then he closes the gate. Success! Here you can see the little black bull and brown heifer are securely inside the pen. They will get food and water here until they are ready to rejoin the herd.

Meanwhile, the rest of the cows and calves exit the corral and follow the laneway back to their pasture.

While it is possible to catch and sort cows with one person and a border collie, it never hurts to have some extra helpers.

Thanks for reading,

Leith, Mary Kate & Norah MacKenzie


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