The herd of lowing cows parted like a wave before Curt Pate, who rode straight up to the bull and let him know who was in charge without making a sound.
Pate, a 49-year-old Montana cowboy who consulted on the 1998 Robert Redford film “The Horse Whisperer,” switched his focus to cows about five years ago and has been traveling the country teaching ranchers to think like cattle and use low-stress methods of handling livestock.
At the moment, his work is sponsored by the Beef Checkoff Program and industry partners, who are eager to counter bad publicity generated by a widely seen, secretly recorded video of cows on an Ohio dairy farm being beaten and prodded with pitchforks.
“It makes me ill,” Pate said. “I really can't stand it. If you care about animals, you just can't stand those things.”
He said his goal is to teach modern ranchers traditional livestock handling methods used 100 years ago. Back then, there were fewer corrals and fences, and a ranch manager didn't spend as much time on a computer as with livestock.