low-stress livestock handling

Building trust while working with livestock, part 1

For a decade and more, Bud Williams has been teaching methods and attitudes about handling livestock that are different from what many people in the livestock industry have grown up with.

Building trust while working with livestock, part 2

In Part 1 of Building Trust while Working with Livestock, Bud Williams outlined the situation in livestock handling today, the difficulties of change, the benefits of change, and the attitudes and beliefs that are involved in shifting from a high-stress, forceful approach to low-stress, nonviolent methods. In Part 1 he also began to describe the principles of good stockmanship, beginning with the need to move in straight lines.

The principle of pressure/release

Building trust while working with livestock, part 3

Last issue Bud talked about pressure/release, the flight zone, movement, and working with dogs. Here Bud shares some of what he has learned over the years, and answers a question about labor requirements for herding.

Building trust while working with livestock, part 4

In the last installment, Bud talked about what he has learned about teaching and herding. This time we learn about the importance of training, and about driving, sorting, stress, and teaching and learning.


There's hardly anybody in this group who uses horses who would consider taking a horse that had never ever been handled at all, and just throwing a saddle onto it and going out to gather cattle. They'd want to work with them at least for a couple of minutes.

Low stress livestock handling, part 1

(From Patterns of Choice, 1990s) We are pleased to announce a regular feature on low-stress livestock handling contributed by Steve Cote (two syllables, long e). Steve is the NRCS district conservationist for Arco, Idaho, and has devoted considerable time to learning and testing livestock handling methods and approaches that work, and has paid special attention to the methods taught by Bud Williams. What follows is Steve's interpretation and understanding of these methods.

Low stress livestock handling, part 2

We should start training our livestock by getting them to respond calmly and consistently to three cues:

  1. Responding to pressure from a handler approach that is nearly perpendicular to the sides of the animal
  2. Responding to pressure from a handler approach that is coming more from the rear
  3. Going by or past us

Once the herd does these three things calmly and consistently, we'll have a great start on developing real control.

Starting stock dogs

When Bud starts a cow dog, the only thing he wants the pup's mind on is the cattle. He is very careful not to distract it from the stock. Even if the pup had been schooled with obedience commands, he never uses them the first few times he takes it around stock. By the time he feels it wouldn't be detrimental to the pup to use them, the pup knows what to do and doesn't need them.

Working with stock-herding dogs: Part 1

The following material is reprinted from The Ranch Dog Trainer magazine, December 1992 and January 1993. This magazine can be contacted at HC 69 Box 300, Oscar, OK 73569, 580.437.2215.

Working with stock-herding dogs: Part 2

These articles were first published in Ranch Dog Trainer magazine. Part 1

Untrained dogs of yesteryear

In a letter to The Ranch Dog Trainer, one man wrote that Bud Williams, by not appreciating the advantages of trained trial-type stock dogs for ranch work, was showing a nostalgia for the "good old (untrained) dogs of yesteryear." Bud's reply:

Syndicate content