Understanding the behavior of your livestock will benefit you greatly when handling animals. A few months back, we published an article about understanding the flight zone in livestock handling. This week, we will talk about some very basics of livestock handling, safety issues, and look at some more livestock handling techniques.
- A single, lone, agitated steer is very dangerous. Many serious cattle handling injuries are caused by a single agitated steer or cow. One man received twenty-seven stitches after he got in the crowd pen with a lone animal and teased it.
- Escaped cattle must never be chased. An animal which is loose on the plant grounds will return to the stockyard if it is left alone. If an animal gets loose inside the plant, employees should stay quiet while one designated person either stuns it or eases it out a door.
- Stay out of the blind spot behind a steer’s rear end. If he cannot see you, he is likely to kick you.
- Install a safety fence consisting of upright posts around the cattle shackling area to prevent cattle from entering other parts of the plant.
Use follow the leader instincts of animals
Some animals like cattle, pigs, etc. will follow the leader. Animal handlers can take advantage of this “Follow the leader” instinct of certain animals. Using this natural behavior for moving animals could be easy and safe for the handlers. You will find it a lot easier to move animals into the single file chute (race) if it is partially emptied before filling the animals in. making the chute partially empty will give the animals enough room for them to follow the leader. Many handlers are often reluctant to use this method but once they get used to it, they will find that keeping up with the line in a squeeze chute, in a large ranch, slaughter plant or the feedlot will be much easier.
Never over fill the crowd pen
Many handlers make the mistake of overfilling the crowd pen leading to up to the single file race. A good rule of thumb is to keep the crowd pen half way full. This way, animals will have enough room for turning. it is best to use the crowd pen as a “pass through” and the animals immediately enter the single file race.
The crowd gate should not be pushed up too tightly. The gate should be made to follow the animals and not to push the animals forcibly. It is easier to move a herd if you manage to move the leader instead of trying to push the animals into the chute. Power gates should be regularly monitored and should be used with caution. Make sure you have a manual switch for the gates that can turn it off. One-way or sliding gates at the entrance to the single file chute must be open when livestock are brought into the crowd pen. Cattle will balk at a closed gate. One-way flapper gates can be equipped with a rope to open them by remote control from the crowd pen.
Handler can easily move cattle with a ribbon and stick to make it turn and guide the animals in the right direction by placing the ribbon alongside of the animal’s head. Animals move most easily if you place small branches inside the crowd pen. Animals need room to turn. The pen crowd gate should not forcibly push the animals.
We will be publishing tips on animal handling periodically on our sites, so keep reading our articles for more information. If you found them informative, please share them on your network and let others know. We would also appreciate your comments on this article, so please let us know your thoughts about it.