2 Long 6 Short

Can you guess what I’m talking about? If you are familiar with morse code, then you will be able to figure it out.

Working by myself on the ranch leads to a lot of random thinking time, hence the title of my other blog “Ranch Ruminations”. Last week while I was feeding cows I got to wondering how to call the cows in morse code with the horn…

Before you think I’m really, really crazy… Everyone has their own way of calling the cows.

  • My dad has always been a fan of calling ’em with “Jingle Bells” on the horn. Especially in the middle of the July heat.
  • We hollar at our cows with a “Woooo (similar to a Razorback Hog Call), Come on Girls” (or “Come on Boys” respective for the bulls)
  • Amy Kirk (Twitter) says “We use a long and two short honks; my husband’s family’s old partyline!”
  • Jillian (Twitter) calls her cows with a “honk randomly & holler “Coy!” Why coy? No clue…”
  • Jeff Fowle (Twitter) just uses the “canine interpreter” when the horn doesn’t work.

How do you call the cows? or pigs? or chickens? or maybe just the kids around the house…

By the way, I was trying to figure out how to say “moo” in morse code. 2 Long and 6 short dashes. The cows come to the call, but of course, they come runnin at the sight of a feed wagon any time of day.


  1. Cute Ryan. Always got to keep you sense of humor although calling cattle to feed does teach them to walk off and ignore their calves. Just don’t go to moving pairs with a feed wagon. Some of the worse wrecks I’ve seen moving cattle were when people decided to farmer down while cowboying up and use a feed wagon to move cattle. Isn’t anything much more frustrating than having a 500 pair drive turn into a 500 calf drive…

    1. Actuall Bob, moving cattle with the feed wagon works pretty well in our operation. Our pastures are well suited for rotational grazing and all have a catch trap that connects pastures. We put feed troughs in the trap pen, and the cows come right in. The calves actually learn to tag along after the first few tries so we seldom have trouble with more than a few calves falling behind.

  2. Ryan,everyone claims it works pretty well, but does it really? We create a lot of what I call “unseen” stress just because most of us have never seen cattle actually acting as a herd and not having any stress. This affects both the ADG and (especially in a rotational system) pasture utilization.

    The first test is whether or not your calves are traveling paired up. This is something a lot of people have never seen, but if your cows are just picking up and moving without picking up their calf, you have stress in your cattle. Having a few calves falling behind means you have not passed this test (and if you observe closely, you probably have very few cows going through the gate with their calf by their side).

    The second observation is how your cattle disperse across the new pasture. If your cattle go through the gate, paired up, and say close together as a herd, all grazing in the same direction, they have no stress. If they scatter out across the pasture they are under stress.

    When your cattle are grazing as a herd, they will graze the pasture evenly with no selective grazing. I have seen rotational grazing operations that always mow after making a pasture change because of all of the spots which were not grazed. This is eliminated when your cattle are grazing as a herd because the whole pasture is grazed evenly…

    1. Bob, I really do appreciate your comments. Really I do, but do you ever not critique my practices? I never claimed to be an expert, but constantly getting corrected isn’t always fun.

      1. Ryan,

        First, using Morse code to call cattle is a stroke of comedic genius. That you have the sense of humor to do this shows you have the possibility to become one hell of a hand (the two are more closely related than you can believe at this point)…
        18 years ago, when Bud Williams told the class I was in, that fewer than 5% of the people making a living with cattle actually understand them, I found it hard to believe. Over time, I have come to agree with him.

        You are dedicated enough to what you do to have incredible potential. I would hate to see you fall into the trap of doing things just because that is the way most people do them.

        True, I point out things you may not enjoy hearing, but ask yourself two questions;

        Do you want to be able to improve on what you are doing?

        If I don’t tell you these things, what would be the chances of you learning them on your own?

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