As a part of our mission to produce healthy, but also delicious meat we discovered by researching and experimenting on our own farm that the way we moved and worked with our cows affected the level of stress they had to deal with. That level of stress can, in turn, affect the state of the animals' health and can affect the tenderness and flavor of the beef.
We quickly realized that part of some of their stress came from our own ignorance in farming. We knew very little when we first began and when our level of stress was high so was that of our animals. We figured, as beginning farmers, our cattle did not need any extra help being stressed. So, we began to cut out things that could potentially cause them stress. Some extra factors that can cause stress are loud noises, quick movement, younger children that might appear small and threatening, and tight spaces. While there are more things that can cause them stress, we began crossing out and changing the way we dealt with our cattle.
. To replace the loud ATVs and foreign-sounding machinery we saddled up our horse. We have horses that are simply for pleasure and hobbies, but we tested their 'cowy senses' and began using our horses to move our Devons. Since the Red Devon breed is such a gentle breed we do not really have the demand for a specially trained cutting horse. This allows us to move our cows from field to field with another animal. If you think about how this lessens the stress level we realize that the cows respond better to a larger animal rather than a loud machine. The horses establish a level of rank, which is what cows do every day all day, they establish their pecking order. Instead of scaring the cattle with loud motors, we can more naturally give them an incentive to move. Many times they are ready to move and you just have to open the gate, but when trying to separate heifers or weaning calves the horses do the job with swift agility when needed.