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Not making this up: Civility in the cow-calf herd

Imagine my delight when I found a news release about civil heifers and bulls. It’s a news column out of North Dakota State University Extension. A beef specialist is writing about weaning calves.

“Although much of the focus on calf preparation for weaning is focused on vaccination protocols, stress is the big culprit. The absolute need to eliminate stress is critical.

“The key to eliminating stress begins with the selection of replacement heifers. That’s done by allowing only civil, well-behaved heifers into the cow herd. Then cows are bred only to bulls that have a similar, acceptable attitude, which means no rodeo bulls allowed.”

And then the writer turns to humans and all their paraphernalia
“As the calving season gives way to summer grazing, are the cattle monitored and allowed to work with humans, horses or other equipment producers haul around? Is the herd allowed to be relaxed as calves and cows are checked? Is there an occasional treat that brings the cows up to the feeder and has them looking forward to a visit from the producer?”

“Are the previous and upcoming fall work sessions planned to allow appropriate time for all the work to be done? Are breaks and lunch scheduled so co-workers maintain healthy attitudes about the day’s work load? Has management accounted for the thoughts and suggestions from those helping for the day? Is the day a serious cattle day or a fun day for outside riders at the expense of the cattle?”

My thoughts on the correlations are endless, but here’s a beginning…..

Select only civil, well-behaved people when filling positions.
Be kind.
Treats are good.
Think of coworkers’ stress and workloads when planning tasks.
Listen to the suggestions of others.
Don’t have fun at the expense of others.

I didn’t even include his line, “Have the hot shots, whips and sticks long ago been cast over the cliff and allowed to rust and rot in the refuse pile?”

If you wonder why I read a North Dakota beef column…I post news releases from across the United States for eXtension, an educational partnership of more than 70 land-grant universities helping Americans with access to timely, objective, research-based information and educational opportunities. http://www.extension.org

This BeefTalk column in full

(I do have fun reading news releases.) Let me know your thoughts on more correlations.


I debated about commenting, but this is just too tempting. We have a cow herd. Supposedly I'm the "boss", by virtue of being the only one of the pair of us at the present time who can walk to the far end of the pasture. So, how do I share with the cows that it'd be good if they went wherever? I walk out among them, talking to them. I don't chase, I mingle. I'm pretty sure they don't understand what I'm saying, but it seems to amuse them enough that normally, after making eye contact with a few key individuals, they'll end up moseying up to the barn. I'm also pretty sure they always think it was their own idea. Not in a driving rainstorm, naturally, but on a normal day.

I also have discovered a pretty successful way of dealing with the babies. I squat down on the ground in the middle of the pasture (keeping an eye on what it is I'm squatting on). I can't sit because it takes too long to get up at my age, but the thing is, it doesn't take long before the first of the curious babies will leave his mama and come check me out, followed by his buddies. I'm at eye level, see? The mamas evidently don't see me as a threat since I'm sitting there quietly visiting.

Oh, yeah, we definitely cull out the Wild Buggers, Mean Buggers, and Fence Jumpers. If I have to chase cows, I'm at least going to chase tame ones!!

Thanks for starting my day with this little giggle!

Contented cows give more milk, OR civility in the workplace increases production.

A long time ago when I was a freshman in high school and spent my early morning and late afternoon hours milking cows by hand, I solved an "extra credit" algebra problem while milking our prize cow. She was quiet and contented; I could maintain a steady flow from her udder to the pail and still devote full mental attention to the equation in question, picturing the solution as I leaned my head against her gentle side. She and I were at peace with one another, working together.

Increased production can be mental as well as physical. Here's to civility.