The term “stockmanship” is one of those words that’s hard to define. It’s usually associated with low-stress livestock handling while getting animals to do what you want them to do. However, it involves the whole life of the livestock in our care.
Lee Jones is an Extension veterinarian at the University of Georgia. He says stockmanship will be different for sheep and goats than for cattle, but it’s always centered around the natural needs of the livestock. It’s a lot like parenting.
"Animals left to their own natural devices are a little bit like kids left unsupervised, and they can get into trouble," he says. "So, we want to deal with them with their natural behaviors and really utilize that, but we also need to understand that we see a bigger picture, we understand what the dangers are of animals left to their own care."
Good fencing protects them from the environment and also protects the environment from them. Proper barns and facilities provide comfort, shelter, and a place to care for sick animals. A comprehensive herd health management plan keeps them healthy, and knowing how many animals can be put on a pasture ensures everyone has enough to eat.
Jones says a good stockman also keeps an eye on the bottom line.
"Keep track of their cost of production so that they know what it costs to run animals in this environment. And then if we find ourselves where our return is lower than our cost of production, we need to make whatever adjustments we need to make to make sure that we continue to generate an income so we can provide the needs for our livestock," says Jones.
Animals with a good quality of life will reward you with better performance and you’ll enjoy the lifestyle a lot more.
More with Lee Jones and the definition of stockmanship
Stockmanship takes many forms
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