On Saturday, April 12th, KFU and the Kansas Graziers hosted a low-stress livestock handling workshop led by Dr. Lynn Locatelli in Salina. Dr. Locatelli, a livestock handling specialist, gave a deep, thoughtful presentation to a full-house eager to learn more about low stress livestock handling.

Dr. Locatelli was a veterinarian in western Nebraska for 14 years. During that time she became interested in the Bud Williams method of low stress cattle handling. She’s currently part of a ranch management team based in New Mexico and continues to educate livestock handlers across the country seeking strategies that are better for both the animals and their handlers.

Dale Strickler, president of the Kansas Graziers Association, introduced Dr. Locatelli with a story from his own life. Some years back, when his children were young, Dale’s cattle got out and were into the neighbors crops. He and his kids set out to chase the cattle back home. Dale described the experience as bad, bad, bad. The kids returned home and told their mom about all the new four-letter words they learned helping daddy chase the cows… He said that Mother is a lot happier now that he utilizes low-stress handling. It was an amusing and effective way to begin the day.

The audience, itself, was intriguing in that attendees ranged from 8 years old to 80 years young, with a solid majority of the crowd being young, eager producers wanting to learn a more responsible way to handle their livelihood. Dr. Locatelli did an excellent job of not only relaying the information she wished to share, but also in inspiring audience involvement in the presentation. It wasn’t long before even the youngest participants were engaged in the discussion, and that made an enjoyable day for all.

One slide in particular really reflected the day’s message:

  1. Low-stress handling is leadership; calm, confident leaders communicate effectively.
  2. The team understands the expectations.
  3. Communication is effective–well-timed, precise, and consistent body language.
  4. Correction, not punishment, is utilized.
  5. Emotion is neutral; use a business tone to communicate with both cattle and people.

Points she made to emphasis these concepts included:

  • There are 3 types of herding: driving, trailing, and chumming (luring with treats)
  • Train your livestock to drive contentedly before you need to do it for real. (Repetition training)
  • Work toward eliminating panic movements.
  • Herd in straight back and forth lines, not in windshield wiper movements.
  • Animals, like people, understand patterns.

One of Dr. Locatelli’s deep thought phrases that I really liked was “When we behave properly, the cattle behave properly.” Although I will admit I had to reflect back on that darn heifer I once had…

Dr. Locatelli’s presentation was made possible by a North Central Risk Management Education Center grant awarded to the Kansas Farmers Union Foundation.


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