A Cowboy’s Faith: Gathering Flint Hills cattle – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith: Gathering Flint Hills cattle

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“It’s summer roundup time in the Flint Hills.”

Cowboys and cowgirls throughout the area have had alarm clocks going off at 4 o’clock in the morning. They catch, saddle, and load horses into trailers in order to be ready to gather short season yearling grazing cattle at 5:45 a.m.

There were 16 horseback riders, cowboys and cowgirls, along with two mechanical carts when about 600 steers were rounded up. No stampedes or other problems that morning so the steers were penned in steel fence corrals in less than two hours.

A couple steers had been left behind as lameness wouldn’t allow travel at pace of the remaining herd. They were loaded in pickup stock trailers driven out to their pasture location later in the morning. It’ll take some time for recovery from their health issues.

Nine semi tractor cattle trailers waiting a few miles away were called upon penning of the herd. They arrived at the cattle pens within minutes and the steers were loaded for distant feedlots and additional growing.

Grazing programs nowadays are sometimes different than several decades ago. Native Flint Hills grasses are highest in protein for increased yearling grazing cattle gains early in the season.

So, cattle are often double stocked on pastures for half the season to get the best gains possible. However, other cattle are grazed full season for roundup in early fall. They will weigh more at gathering time but will not have put pounds on as efficiently as the short season cattle.

Many factors can be attributed to the cattle gains. Among them are the breed and type of cattle and the body score condition when turned out to graze. Thin cattle going to grass in late April or early May will gain more efficiently than heavier cattle turned out later.

Of course, weather impacts the quality and amount of grass produced. Rainfall at the right time influences growth rates, yet too much moisture decreases grass protein content, lowering gains.

These cattle gained 2.5 pounds per day during the grazing period. Cattlemen often set a goal of having cattle gain three pounds per day.

Several cowboys and cowgirls were lined up to help gather summer grazing cattle for 18 days straight.

Reminded of Genesis 19:7: “It is time for the cattle to be gathered and delight their owners.”


Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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