They want to be in a herd. / They want to move in the direction they are headed. / They want to follow other animals. / Good movement attracts good movement.

These concepts are all closely related allowing us to group them together in one discussion but each should be considered individually because they are all important elements to be understood and used when working with livestock.

They want to be in a herd.

The herd instinct is deeply ingrained in cattle. For most of their evolution the herd provided the best chance of survival for each individual animal. Although that is their basic hard-wired instinct, if they repeatedly experience negative events associated within the herd (e.g. overcrowding in corrals and alleys resulting in high stress situations) they will associate the herd as being negative. This can lead to animals that have a tendency to want to escape the herd, constantly looking for a way to escape the pressure they associate with the herd itself. This is often the result of conventional cattle handling methods, but it can be overcome by changing our handling methods.

They want to move in the direction they are headed.

Cattle generally have a preference to continue the way they are going. If we properly take a leadership roll for the herd they are often very willing accept direction from us, however it is important that we understand how to place ourselves properly in order to affectively communicate with them.

They want to follow other animals.

This principal is often obvious even to handlers who may not use correct low-stress techniques. Think of a time when loading cattle on a truck or going down an alley. Once one animal sees where to go and begins to move others will often instinctively follow. This powerful instinct is also on display when a baby calf that is only a few hours old can stand and follow his mother. Its the same principal that will cause the entire herd of freshly weaned calves to walk a fence even if only one or two individuals begin the process. However, because cattle like to follow each other we can use this as a positive aspect when we want movement.

Good movement attracts good movement.

This principal is basically an elaboration on the previous statement but it is important to understand good movement. Good movement is when the animal willingly chooses to move in a normal frame of mind. They key being that it is not frantic or panicked. The following videos display the power of good movement working to our advantage.

~Note that some animals missed the crossing area and are willing to swim the dark deep water in in order to follow the good movement of their herd mates. Imagine how difficult it might be to try to force them to cross with conventional methods (something that they are instead doing willingly.)

~Also note that the movement through the letdown in the fence although accelerated, is still good movement because it is not panicked or frantic.

This principle is based again on herd mentality and cattleā€™s desire to follow each other.