Sorting Cattle in The Field 

Greg taught us a really cool way to sort cattle this week. This method works well for him when he needs to sort cattle in the field and doesn’t want to take them all back to the corral. He has 8 different farms and 240 head of cattle that are always grazing, so flexibility is key. To set up the infrastructure for handling at each one of those farms would cost a fortune. This method is also low stress for both humans and the cattle. With a discussion beforehand, it’s also easy.

Note: In order for this to work, you livestock will need to be trained to electrified polywire.

This could work if you have a large herd, or a small one.  You need a few things before you get started. They are:

  • A reel with polywire
  • 3 people
  • A plan of action – Where are you going once you get the cow/calf you are after?

Now that you have all of the above you are ready to get started. See my illustration below, then I’ll explain the process.

Now that you are behind a group of cows, with the one you want to separate out in that group, you can start to narrow down the group until you’ve gotten the one you are after. To do this, all you need to do is walk/jog/run behind the group. You can then just raise up the polywire over the backs of the cattle you don’t want to isolate. These cattle will run off and rejoin the herd, and your group size will decrease. Let’s look at the next illustration.

I would recommend that you take a friend along with the cow/calf you are trying to isolate. This will decrease the stress of both animals and they will be easier to handle and more comfortable.

So in review all you need to do is:

  • Create a polywire triangle with 2 other people
  • Isolate a group of cattle with the one want in that group
  • Raise the polywire over the cows you don’t want to isolate
  • Walk the cattle that you’ve isolated to do whatever you need to do (corral, lane or trailer

I didn’t have much experience handling cattle up until this point. This was really easy and most importantly stress-free. I’ve never tried this with sheep or goats, and I don’t know if it would work, but it wouldn’t hurt to try. Let me know if you do!

What are you experiences with handling cattle in the field? Do you have a different method? Let me know if you tried this, and how it worked for you.

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Chris Stelzer

Chris Stelzer is a published Author, founder of Agricultural Insights and creator of many resources that help family farmers and ranchers grow their businesses. His flagship courses are the Grazing Mastery Program and The Farm Marketing Mastery Program. 

Chris Stelzer

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