I would rather not relate my first two experiences loading hogs. I’ll do it but only because I love you.
There were a lot of…adjectives. Maybe some high temperatures. A fair amount of running, yelling, pushing, lifting and other unpleasantness. This was capped off when we got to town and one escaped the chute and ran around the street near the packer. That was awesome.
One of our goals is to ensure our animals have a wonderful life right up until the end. I don’t want loading into a trailer to be unpleasant for man or beast. I have found a better way.
The pigs load themselves. Rather than attempt to load the pigs the morning I drive to town, I back the trailer out there the night before. I butt the electric fence up against the sides of the trailer and put their feed inside. Curiosity and appetite lead them into the trailer and I close the door. No muss, no fuss. Up they go. I have loaded them this way twice now. Old timers think it’s a fluke…just like the electric fence I keep them in with.
Monday night the fourth and final pig showed resistance to loading into the trailer. Rather than pressure the animal to fit my schedule, I backed off. 3 of them were loaded into the front partition. The fourth was reluctant. I put some apples by the door and went to eat supper. After supper he still hadn’t loaded. I decided bring the cows up, feed the goats and close the chickens. When I got back his curiosity had won out over his caution and I closed the door while he munched away at the apples.
This represents a major epiphany and is entirely my father’s idea. Thanks Dad.
Where have you found frustration with livestock? How have you overcome it?
You’ll like this post by Selden about loading her pigs for market.
LOL. Yup. That could happen.
Oh that pig loading story, that is so dang real and so funny. Bet it wasn’t at the time though..
The food thing seems to be kind of universal when dealing with animals – human included (chocolate works well). I used to have to routinely catch a pony in the dark in a 2 acre paddock, and I learned very quickly that the ONLY way to do it was with a bucket with a small amount of sweet feed in it. A few years ago, a friends yearling heifers (about 20 of them) got out and down the road (at night). I was heading home from something and saw them, same time as another neighbour, who phoned Gordie. We managed to hold the heifers on somebody’s front lawn (they weren’t home), but couldn’t get them to go back up the road. Gordie appeared on a tractor, with a dog. He stopped the tractor, climbed down, whistled to the dog, nodded to me, and then started walking back up the road into the darkness – bucket in hand. That’s it. The cows meekly followed him – boss cow first, then a few more, then the whole lot of them in a string behind him – the pied piper of cows. The dog helped of course, nipping at heels and bringing up the rear, but it was the bucket that did the trick, no question. The people with the freshly fertilized lawn were very understanding when I ran into them later.
Julie’s grandpa was telling us about catching the horses in the pasture before hitching them up. They would always be way, way out in the furthest corner of the pasture at hitching time. But they knew when it was Sunday because they would always be in the barn.
Yup, horses are smart that way…that darn pony was always far from the gate as well.
My experiences loading and moving my cows across distances via lanes, has taught me the value of pressure and release – usually, very little pressure and lots of release. Best results occur when these prey animals figure things out for themselves and it is “their idea” to do what you want – talk about parallel psychology. The patience factor is the hardest trait to acquire, imho.
Patience…no kidding. Ugh. It was huge when we figured out to load them the night before.