Tips for Cattle Herding

Cattle Herding Tips

If you are considering raising cattle either as a career or a means to earn some extra income, you’re going to need to learn how to herd them. Although this probably won’t shock you, cows aren’t the most willing of animals to do what you tell them. Learning to herd cattle requires a good attitude, some basic knowledge, and the right equipment.

Herding cattle isn’t an overly complicated thing to do, and you can get it done quite safely and easily, without causing stress to your herd or yourself. Here are ​our tips for herding cattle:

1. Have the Right Attitude

Animals, cows included, are rather sensitive to the signals given off by humans through their emotions. If you aren’t calm and are coming across as stressed, this will have an impact on the cow and make herding that little bit extra difficult. By approaching your herd in a calm, composed manner and quietly herd your cattle, you will stand a much better chance of getting the job done without any problems. This will also ensure the safety of both you and your herd.

Cattle Herder Woman

2. Herd at the Right Time

Ideally, you want to herd and move your cattle during the afternoon so that they will arrive at their new home when it’s time for them to put their calves to sleep. The entire herd tends to remain where the calves are sleeping, as the herd acts as a protector to the calves.

3. Use the Right Equipment

Rattle pads, sorting poles, and prods can all be essential pieces of equipment ​that you can use to sort your cattle as you herd them. For instance, many farmers want to keep their cows separate from their calves, and herding provides the perfect opportunity to do this. Although sorting your cattle can be a bit of a chore, it is something you can do and learn much easier by using the right equipment.

A rattle pad is a stick between the lengths of 42” and 48” with a 12” paddle on the end. It uses BB pellets to produce a sound ​that helps guide and control the herd. A sorting pole is the same as this, but it does the job without producing the sound.

4. Use a Whip

Whip for Cattle

We’re not advocating using a whip against the cattle – that would be cruel – rather, the whip should be used to make a whipping noise, which will drive your cattle away from you. Cattle tend to avoid noise and shouting whilst using the whip is a great way to force them to change direction and move towards a certain position. The whip should never, ever touch your cattle whilst herding, period.

5. Use Molasses Supplements

The use of molasses supplements can be a great way to improve your herding and have your cattle bending to your whim. Cows love the taste of these molasses supplements, however, your cattle need to have had exposure to them before you try and incorporate it into your herding so that they will know how it tastes, and it can also act as a lure.

6. Move Cattle Together

All of your cattle need to be together in the herd before you can apply pressure to make them move. If your cattle are not together as one herd, they will not move – cows are herd animals and they don’t leave each other behind. Before you try moving your cattle from A to B, it is important to bring your cattle together in a quiet and orderly herd so you can then move the entire herd together as a unit. You simply cannot move half or quarter of a herd, or a few cows individually, it simply will not work.

Cattle Herding

​Now ​Go Herd Those Cattle

Although cattle herding can be hard work, it’s all part-and-parcel of keeping cattle, and it is something you need to learn and do well. IF you incorporate the above tips into your cattle herding routine, you will be able to herd your cattle safely and easily.

Cattle herding is a skill ​that comes over time. As you learn more about it, you can incorporate new tools to help you get it done much quicker and easier. So long as you are patient and take time to learn how to control your herd of cattle, herding can be a rewarding experience not only for you, but also for your cattle.

  • Updated February 19, 2020