Getting started in the bucking bull business

Highlights

  • Nutrition is the most important thing to raising and hauling bucking cattle.
  • When you are just getting started, try to find a practice pen close where you can take your bulls and get used to handling and bucking them.

In This Article

When I first started, there were a lot of things I wanted to know that I was too shy to ask about. I was around a lot of good bull men and women from the start, and I learned a lot from just listening, but I will tell you that getting started was one of the hardest parts of my job. 

There are so many people who contact me on how to get started raising bulls. Every young girl who reaches out to me on how I got my start, and how they can start in the business themselves, just makes me smile all the way through. So I just wanted to give everyone a little insight on getting started in the business.

I had a lot of really good help when I first got started, but I also had to go through some unnecessary trials. I didn't really know what the best feed was, or where to haul them, or even how to flank them.  I'm a naturally shy person, and it was always hard for me to ask those questions. So it took a while, but eventually, I got enough figured out to get by. And then I realized it was OK to ask, and even if I didn't agree with everything, you can learn something from every person you meet. So here are a few things I was able to learn on my own and from my peers. I hope it gives those of you who are interested in owning bucking stock get a little foundation to build upon.

The first thing, and one of the most important things about getting started, is having a good facility. It doesn't have to be fancy, just practical. I've kept my cattle in places that were not suited for bucking stock at all, and it's just a complete headache.  Having enough pasture to run the amount of bulls you have, places to separate them if they don't get along, and a way to capture them is a good start. Working pens and all the other tools can be added as you go along, and there are a lot of portable panels these days stout enough for bucking bulls. Priefert manufacturing provides all the equipment I need. I use all portable panels and have no problems with them, and I can set them up however I want them and change it at any time.

Nutrition is the most important thing to raising and hauling bucking cattle. It's probably the most overlooked part of the game, too. I know when I first started, I didn't know half as much as I thought I did about feeding bucking cattle. I thought it was as easy as feeding regular cattle, but it's not at all. It's also a lot different feeding bulls in the south than it is in the north, another thing people don't take into consideration. When you start out, have your pastures and hay tested to see how much protein it has and what it is lacking, as far as minerals and other nutrition go. That gives you an idea on what kind of grain and other supplementing they will need. In Montana, I can get by feeding my bulls about 10-15 pounds of grain a day when they are out on grass, because the grass has a lot of nutrition already. In Texas, I probably feed 20 or more pounds a day to each bull. The quality of hay people feed is really overlooked a lot, too. Most people feed hay as a filler and rely on their grain for the nutrition, but I think there is a lot of value in good hay. Hay is expensive these days, so really do your research to make sure you are getting your money's worth. And ALWAYS provide free choice salt and minerals to your cattle.

When you are just getting started, try to find a practice pen close where you can take your bulls and get used to handling and bucking them. It's always fun to hang out around others who love bull riding, have some help, and figure out your bulls without any pressure to hurry. Get advice from as many people as you can, but use your common sense, and if something doesn't feel right, don't feel like you have to do it. My way of thinking is that even if what I think in any certain situation isn't right or the normal thing to do, well, they are mine, so I can screw them up if I want to, but someone else isn't going to!

After you have a feel for it and think your bulls and you are ready to go to town, find a rodeo or bull riding association in your area and find out who the stock contractor is at an event you would like to go to. Give them a call and ask them if you could bring a couple bulls. Most of the time, they are happy to help. If you think your bulls are good enough, there are also a lot of bull competitions all over the country you can enter for bulls of all ages. 

Try to find someone you like and think does a good job who can help you out. It's so much easier to learn from people you enjoy being around and respect. Always keep safety your first priority. Remember that not every bull is going to be a superstar, so don't get discouraged if it doesn't happen right away. I hope some of you who want to get into the business can take something from this, and I hope to see you at a bull riding soon!

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