Cattle drive reined in after wandering cattle damage field

Gloria Hafemeister
A 15-mile drive leading cattle to a winter pasture was called off Sunday morning after the animals ventured into a neighboring soybean field.

LEBANON – A weekend cattle drive planned for southern Wisconsin was scrubbed after cows began wandering into a soybean field.

A crew of about 15 people on horseback had planned to drive a herd of cattle from the town of Lebanon to a farm near Juneau over about four hours Sunday morning.

Prior to the cancellation, sidewalks in Hustisford and Lebanon were busy on Nov. 12 as spectators hoped to get a glimpse of an old-fashioned cattle drive.

Rumors had circulated all week about a planned cattle drive after the animals' owner Christ Hookstead visited two churches – one in Lebanon and one in Hustisford – during their Sunday Bible classes last week to announce his plans to move about 50 head of beef cattle from his Lebanon farm to another of his farms near Iron Ridge.

Through social media, word spread quickly. Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt who was opposed to the cattle drive, sent out a news release informing the public of the drive, which would have followed county highways for about 15 miles - including going through the village of Hustisford. Wisconsin law protects cattle drives, and gives cows the right of way.

The cattle drive began as planned but after just a short time the cattle spread out in all directions, keeping the trained horse riders busy rounding them up. Crews steered the herd home after animals "immediately" wandered into a soybean field near the start of the route, damaging the field, the sheriffs' office wrote in a news release.

Andrew Keuhl, who owns the neighboring farm, told members of the media that the wandering cattle and pursuing horses caused a lot of damage to his soybean field. Cattle were corralled soon after the 'unplanned' detour, and the short-lived drive was called off.

A disappointed Chris Hookstead spoke with some of the cowboys who planned to help him guide about 50 beef cows to a farm 15 miles away on Sunday morning.  Disappointed but not defeated, Hookstead said he still plans to move the cattle somehow to his other farm.

According to the Sheriff's Department, deputies were on scene at the event and that they were working with Hookstead and the land owner to resolve the situation.

Hookstead told the Wisconsin State Farmer he was disappointed at all the attention the cattle drive drew and believed that the cattle were spooked by all the vehicles and spectators.

Disappointed but not defeated, Hookstead said he still plans to find a way to move the cattle to their winter pasture.

“I have built over 17 miles of cattle fence and I know how to care for cattle,” said Hookstead.  “Anyone who knows me knows I don’t give up easily.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.