bring them clear home.
One rancher in the Lemhi Valley
made good use of a portable corral
this fall when he still had a month’s
worth of pasture on one range allotment.
Grass was so dry after summer’s
drought that he wanted to
bring the calves home, but leave the
cows out for another month. He set
up a corral big enough to hold 60
cows. His crew rounded up cattle in
small groups, sorted calves off (to
haul home for weaning and better
feed) and turned the cows back out.
He wanted to leave them out as long
as possible because he was short on
feed at home, but didn’t want to take
the whole herd home and haul cows
back to the range again. If he’d done
that, the cows would have wanted to
come home to their calves. By sorting
them on the range, the cows thought
their calves were still up there somewhere,
and stayed there to graze, not
trying to come home. There was still
a lot of feed out there, but it was too
dry for calves and lactating cows. A
portable corral pays for itself in a situation
Good horses and ropes, and sometimes
a good dog, are often the best
tools for some cowboys who take care
of cattle in distant pastures. Bob Minor
and his family took care of cattle
herds on big ranches in the Nebraska
Sandhills for many years in the 1970s
and Bob also helped his neighbors in
Idaho in recent years when they had
problems out on the range. One fall
he helped a neighbor bring home a
bull that had gone off by himself and
didn’t want to come home. The solution—
two good cowboys on horseback
to rope the bull and get him into
a stock trailer to haul home.
“In the Nebraska Sandhills it was big
pastures (each one a mile square, or
maybe 2.5 square miles) with one or
two windmills. On a 500-cow operation
they just had one hired man.
That cowboy had to fi gure out how to
make it work to get a critter doctored
or loaded in a trailer,” says Bob.
His son Jeff grew up riding and helping
his dad with the cowboying. “We
were usually a long ways from corrals,
somewhere out on 9000 acres. If a sick
or lame animal was on the other side
there was no way we could drive it to
the corral. A few times we roped calves
from the pickup, but usually we roped
them from horseback. With a big critter
you’d hopefully have two guys--to
head and heel it. On a calf, one person
could catch it by the head and the
other person could get off and treat it,”
says Jeff. If you had a good horse and
were by yourself, the horse could hold
the rope tight while you got off to treat
“Here in Idaho, however, the longrope
cowboys do it completely different.
They can restrain a large animal
with just one rider, by roping the
head, then making a couple circles
around it with the rope to trip and
drop the animal to the ground. There
are many ways to do it—and cowboys
use whatever they’ve learned to do,
to make it work. Some guys can get
a stock trailer within reasonable distance
and just load the animal, using
their horses and sometimes a good
dog to load it,” he says.
How do you best prepare your cattle for a summer
move? We’re talking covering all the bases. Here’s
some tips we’ve gathered up for you, some to
discuss with your veterinarian.
• Injectable minerals.
• Parasite control, vaccination boosters.
• Trim some feet.
• Clip haired-over brands (there’s lots of skull-duggery
going on out there these days, make it hard for them
to abscond with your good cattle).
• Re-tag any critters that need it.
• Get a ready box for doctoring and have the panels
and panel wagon ready to go in case you need them.
• Get a truck bed water bladder, portable pump and a
big tub for emergency watering of animals that got
rimrocked and needed a drink yesterday.
40 I WORKING RANCH I JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019