Updated: Apr 10, 2018
A bull customer recently asked me when we delivered his new bull how we kept our herd bulls from fighting and tearing up the place when we put them back together after the breeding season, or when we introduce new bulls into the herd. I knew that he routinely drove by our place several times each week, and it was obvious that he had been paying close attention to our bulls.
Depending on the time of the year, we usually have several pens of bulls that we sort and move around from time to time. Some are weaned bulls that made it through the first castration sort, and that we are growing off to see if they will measure up as they mature. Then there is a smaller group of long yearlings or coming two year olds that have made it through the second cut, that we are saving as herd bulls for our own use or to sell. Then at the end of the breeding season, there are the mature herd bulls that have been running with the cows that we pull out, and group together to be put aside until next year. Usually, we will also have 1-3 new bulls that have been donated throughout the year that have to be introduced into these various groups.
This question that our customer asked about how we mixed or integrated our bulls together without them injuring or killing one another (or destroying the place), is a very interesting and relevant question. Anyone that has more than one herd sire that they need to group together after the breeding season, or that puts more than one bull in with a group of cows, has seen how violent they can be when they are first put together. They will definitely fight it out, sometime taking fence and facilities with them! They will fight until one of them has proven to be dominant, and even then, that status will be challenged on a regular basis. It is not uncommon at all for the bulls to fight so violently that one of them is crippled or worse. I have seen them fight until one of them got completely down and I have seen them fight so violently that one of them actually broke a leg and had to be put down.
Years ago, when I was facing this problem back when I had my own herd, I remember asking a very good friend and a very respected Cattleman (Lee Boyd) the same question our customer was now asking me. Lee was always running a lot more bulls than I did, and he seemed to move and comingle them on a regular basis without any trouble. I rarely, if ever, saw them really tie up and fight to the point that they hurt each other. They may blow, snort, beller, bow up and strut, but they rarely fought ferociously.
On that day years ago when I asked Lee how he did it, he told me that though it appeared all the bulls were together, he never actually just put two or more bulls together in the same pen on the same day they came into close proximity. He told me the secret was to put them side by side, where they could smell each other and maybe touch noses, but to always insure that at least one good strand of hot wire separated them for the first 3-5 days. This way, they would get all the 'trash talk', the threatening, the hole digging and the dirt throwing out of their system before actually being able to get to one another.
If you have ever seen this play out, you can just imagine all the 'trash talk' they must be bellering to one another--probably nothing I would want to repeat in this devotional article, but you know it is a lot of blowing and going!
After a few days of this, I reckon all the tough talking gets old and since the ladies are not around anymore anyway, all the commotion seems to be pretty useless. So instead, they just start hanging out in the common shaded areas of the pens, apparently telling war stories about their past breeding season. If there are any other bulls across the way in nearby pastures, these two bulls probably discuss how 'they' would whoop-up on them if 'they' could just get to em!
Once the two bulls get to this point, you can open the gate and put them together, preferably during the heat of the day, and they usually just get along. Any fighting will be minor. They just put their chins down, making themselves appear as intimidating as they can, and blow a little bit as they pass one another before eventually going to lie down in the shade.
If there is a third bull on the farm that you need to assimilate, you just repeat the process, putting him in the pen where the number two bull just was. He can now blow and go at the other two bulls that are now blowing and going back at him, but who are now on the same team. They no longer have a problem with one another, but they are ready for him! Once again the dirt is flying, the bellering of the new bull is loud and unrelenting, and the bull holes are just getting deeper. But, after a few days, he too can be turned in with the first two and bull number four can be brought in!
I can testify that since we implemented this program years ago, we have never experienced any problems with injuries or torn up fences from bulls fighting when we bring them back together after breeding season, or when we introduce new bulls into the herd.
Keeping in mind that no analogy plays out exactly to the end, this illustration does bring to mind some spiritual truths. First of all, no matter our nationality, ethnicity, religion, age, gender or anything else that separates or causes disagreement, conflict and hostility between us, all of humanity is created in God's image. Unlike the bulls and other beasts of the field that are also created by God, only mankind is created in His likeness. Though we all have a sinful nature, God makes it clear that we do not have to let that nature control us.
He loves each of us so much, individually and collectively, that He sent His only Son to teach us how to love and how to live. He suffered and died in our place, for our sin, so that we can be forgiven and reconciled to God the Father, and inherit eternal life. This implies that though some may be more moral than others, some are more educated than others, some more successful than others and some are more likable than others, we are all sinners and none of us deserve God's love or His extravagant Gift of salvation by grace!
The Bible teaches us in the book of Jeremiah that before He formed us in our mother's womb, God knew us and that He had a plan for our lives. In Ephesians, we learn that even before the foundations of the world, He chose to adopt us to be His children through our faith in Christ! In the book of Acts (17:26-28) we learn that we are all kin folks and that it was God Himself who determined the exact times and places that we would live. We enjoy all the benefits, blessings, freedoms and opportunities of being Americans not by choice and not because we are God's favorites, but that we might seek Him and find Him for ourselves and then be a part of His sovereign plan and purpose to draw all people to Himself. We have free access to the Gospel message and to the Word of God, and we share in a divine calling to serve Him and to make His love known to all the nations.
This being understood, we find ourselves part of a much larger group called humanity, that has much more in common than we may realize. We are all sinners, undeserving of God's grace and mercy, born with a sinful nature, unable to keep God's law, yet we are loved by Him with an unending, undeserved and unconditional love! There may be sin in our lives from time to time that separates and prevents us from having the intimate personal relationship with Him and with one another that He so desperately desires, and that we so desperately need, but He never stops loving us. He never stops reaching out to us with open arms to forgive us if we will just repent of our sin and return to right relationship with Him.
Because of His great love for us as undeserving as we are, instead of butting heads and focusing on what divides us, how much more then ought we love and forgive one another?