During the winter, we farmers spend time networking with other farmers, getting our educational credits up-to-date and taking seminars. This is our downtime.
I just went to the Northwest PA Grazing Conference in Dubois, PA. What a ride! I went with 3 other friends (all women). We left the guys at home in charge of the farms. The boys did a fine job, so now we girls think we should take more girl trips. I guess we'll see.
The conference focused on grazing techiniques and experiences of experts and other farmers. This year Dr.Temple Grandin presented on the topics of animal handling and welfare. She is a fantastic speaker, very down to earth and has such insight on our animals. I could listen to her again and again. Check her out on the internet. She has a facinating story. HBO did a movie on her called "Temple Grandin".
She talks about how our cow herds should have manners and how to make them have manners. When they get pushy you have to walk away. It takes time to learn to work with them. Cows have a balance of fear and curiosity. In other words they have fear and it drives them, but are also curious. On Youtube she has a video where she goes into the center of a cow pen and lays on the ground. The young cows all try to check her out. So although they are fearful at first, they are so curious that they have to get close and figure out what she is. I know when I sit at the edge of the pasture my young cows will come to see what I am doing. Never realized why!
She showed slides where there were problems moving cattle. The cattle can stop moving because of shadows, string or paper laying on the ground, chains hanging, bad lighting and on and on. The list is long. She told us to get on our knees and see what our cattle see.
So, if you visit our farm and see me on my knees in the pen... That's what I am doing, getting the cattle point of view.