I’m super lucky, I had an old friend call me this week whom I’ve know for around 10 years now and was also fortunate to work with him back then as well. Lucky, because I have a friend who calls to check in and pick on me a little, and fortunate because this friend was nothing less than exceptional at his job back then. He has gone from strength to strength in recent years, being patient, taking charge of his own professional development and continuing to look after the animals in his care as well as humanly possible; maintaining his integrity and doing what’s best for the animal which in this case means healthy, happy and very productive grain fed cattle (in amongst his menagerie of other pets who are also exceptional fat and shiny!)
This friend of mine, is a modest kinda’ guy and wishes not to be named; so for the purpose of this musing I will refer to him as Poddy. In fact, Poddy is so intent on flying under the radar that he manages to run a feedlot (very successfully) without using a mobile phone. Now this, is impressive, and says a lot about his ability to lead his team to a degree where he trusts them to honour his lead, make decisions and be accountable. He is also very available on a day to day basis, working alongside his team in all aspects where required or even when not – as he likes ‘spending time with his *cows’ (*steers in actual fact). And a as a feedlot manager, if you don’t know what’s going on with your ‘cows’ then perhaps that should be at the top of your chores list for tomorrow… just a suggestion from a lowly stockperson.
A number of years ago now Poddy found himself in an environment where he was feeding cattle, but unfortunately, they weren’t eating… The stock team was young, inexperienced and pushed beyond means for time. Cutting and bumping and rollercoasting feeds was not an option for Poddy as he knew these animals needed to eat what was there to reach their maintenance energy requirements, they were just to uncomfortable in their new environment to put their heads down and eat… Poddy didn’t ignore this situation, he rang his consulting veterinarian and asked him over the phone to ‘help me gets my cows to eat’. This is where that big fancy word acclimationcame into play. Poddy traded in his allocation vehicle for the afternoon with his old faithful pony out from the paddock and started acclimating his cows. This scenario is a prime example of why Poddy is now a feedlot manager. Because he cares, he is responsible and he takes matters into his own hands. He leads by example and does the jobs that need to be done – shovelling grain, cleaning troughs and acclimating cattle.
I know what you’re thinking… NO feedlot manager has time to do that every day!!!! You’re right, they don’t… however doing this occasionally as an example to your team of how it can be done, is an invaluable lesson.
This finally brings me to the topic of this musing (Yes, I am aware of how long winded I am, thank you).
When Poddy and I spoke recently he found himself in a similar situation, where his cows weren’t eating… feeders were stumped and preparing to cut, hard, and stockies hadn’t come across a mob that were so unsettled in quite some time.
* Chime in Indiana Jones theme song *
Poddy pulled on his cowboy boots and proudly went to work on his ol’ faithful - following finding a girth long enough for its continually growing guts. Admittedly ol’ faithful had been in a pretty good paddock – as have many of us during the recent Iso situation, I’m non-judgemental!
The rest is history and the attached photos tell the story so I’ll save you the rolling eyes and give Poddys brief photo descriptions.
“All me cows hiding in the back of the pen”
“Before I started with them - No bunk action”
“Third one got them drinking – maintenance fella drove past while I was splashing water around and looked at me like I was a dickhead – I gave him the finger, It’s a sign of endearment around here”
“Last one, I am walking away with a smile and heaps more cattle on the bunk – RESULT! What do you reckon’ how did I go? Not too shabby for an old feeder ay”.
As you can see with your own two eyes... acclimation (or whatever you want to call it) really helps us to get along with our livestock which coincidently helps them become more productive.
If you’re interested in hearing a little more about stockamsnhip, acclimation and how to get your cows to eat like ol’ faithful, drop us a line- We love to talk about cattle.