Cattle Handling: Down to the Details

By Sierra Walter | American Angus Association

As weaning season approaches, brushing up on cattle handling basics can be helpful when preparing for a low stress experience between you and your livestock. The Stockmanship and Stewardship Clinic provided valuable information for cattlemen to implement best practices at their ranch. Below are some important details clinicians suggested when managing land and livestock 


Cattle Handling Tips 

Understand proper pressure and timing 

  • There is a fine balance between maintaining constant pressure and over pushing cattle. Knowing when to apply pressure and when to release pressure allows cattle to respond, rather than react, and easily move in the desired direction.

Don’t be afraid to adapt 

  • It’s important to change when things aren’t working — change your angle, change your timing or change your approach. Flexibility is imperative to adapt to each unique situation when working cattle. 

Time of day 

  • It’s important to be thoughtful about the time of day when working livestock. Considering what temperatures create the lowest stress on your cattle is an aspect to not overlook. 


Horsemanship Tips 

Never underestimate the value of a broke horse  

  • A responsive and quiet horse will help create a positive interaction with cattle. Applying and releasing pressure timely is crucial when working cattle, and a well guided horse will help you accomplish the task. 

Animals read confidence

  • Animals sense nervousness and uncertainty in both the horse and its rider. Being confident in your approach will help get the job done quicker and more efficiently. 


Chute Side Tips 

Solid equipment is key 

  • Ensuring chutes, pens and gates are all in working condition prepares for a safe and smooth working process. 

Plan ahead 

  • Looking ahead will minimize mistakes and ensure everyone is on the same page. Simple tasks such as preparing proper storage for medications are easy to forget when failing to plan. Additionally, verifying coolers and ice packs are prepped will keep medication viable and effective.  

Read medication labels 

  • As obvious as it sounds, remember to read the labels. Making certain you are administering the proper dosage to the correct injection site is a crucial step to certify the effectiveness of meds.  


Grazing Management Tips 

Know what forages work in your area 

  • Seeking out recommendations from local agriculturalists minimizes the trial-and-error process, allowing for quicker results. Calling your neighbors or a county extension agent serves as a good start to learn what forages thrive in your area. 

Look below the ground 

  • Understanding the soil type of your land and identifying any deficiencies can lead to smarter decisions to optimize forage capacity.

Create a plan 

  • Laying out a plan that dictates when, where, why and how to manage your land will help you achieve greater success. Conducting research beforehand and implementing effective strategies that work for your operation and your land can help you reach full grazing potential.  


The Stockmanship and Stewardship Clinics are held across the country to cultivate a group of agriculturalists while providing valuable information from industry professionals. The event was sponsored by Merck Animal Health, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Beef Quality Assurance and The Beef Checkoff. To learn more about their educational clinics, visit 

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