Instinctive Herding

It was almost 6pm, light was quickly fading, the top paddock is exhausted and the cows need moving. Outside it was windy, wet and damn cold, but no rest for the wicked… So out I went, with rope in hand and some star pickets to fence off a run to the next paddock in the rotation. I could have waited until the weekend, but Ella had just calved and I wanted to make sure she and Bianca eat well so they can produce good milk for their calves. We choose to have livestock and with that choice come the responsibility of ensuring they are well looked after, so out I went into the fading light…

I left the gate open, thinking that they cows would stay put until I got some feed… won’t be doing that again! While getting the feed, they all decided to go for a wander into the winter paddock. “Crap” I thought, “I can hardly bloody see out here”.

Cue Lightning.

She was locked up in the back yard as per usual, and, as per usual, she escaped when she realised what I was doing. She is sooooo keen to work, that as soon as she knows I am moving the cows or the sheep, she escapes from the back yard. I definately needed her help tonight so wasn’t really annoyed that she had got out. All I could see were some shapes in the dark and with those horns, I didn’t want to get too close after Ella had just calved. Both Lightning and I slowly moved them back up to where they needed to be and when School Fees, got flighty and tried to break the pack, Lightning just darted from my side and gently pushed her back! No barking, no nipping, just a gentle arc run to “push” her back to the herd. She did this on about half a dozen times and the fold (herd) slowly made their way to the paddock gate. I didn’t use any voice commands (mainly as I was confusing myself) but I did use hand signals. I thought I was going to be out there until midnight, but Lightning herded by instinct and it worked a charm!

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