Learning animal behavior can make it a lot easier for ranchers and animal handlers to guide cattle in the desired pasture areas in a stress-free way. Grazing your cattle in rotations on different pastures will allow your pasture grass to grow and recover. We know from our previous blogs that you have to get familiar with your animals before they can fully trust you, and let you into their comfort zone in order to lead them to various different pastures. When animals trust you enough to let you come into their comfort zone or flight zone, cattle handling will become much easier and safer. In this blog, we will continue with our animal handling tips, and Recommended Livestock Safety & Handling Tips.
If you are a beginner cattle handler, you will benefit from the information given here. Expert cattle handlers can also read this enhance their skills, or find out what they’ve been missing.
Expert ranchers and cattle handlers have found that calling or leading cattle is the most efficient way of moving cattle into a new pastures or corral. However, controlling the movement of cattle while leading them from one pasture into the next, is also necessary. Cattle have to move or walk from one pasture to another in an orderly manner, when you’re grazing in rotations. You’ll also have to make sure that calves are not separated from their mothers, or calf productivity or growth may suffer.
Tips on moving cows in a controlled manner
As discussed above, moving cows in a controlled manner and keeping the calves with the cows is very important. Below are some tips on moving cows in a controlled manner.
1. Cows come when called
There are also ways of training cows so that they respond to a voice command or a horn. You should also train them so that they don’t start moving when they see a person or vehicle. To train them to respond to horn or voice calls, beep a horn or call them and then immediately put feed out. This will condition them to respond to voice or horns, associating it with food. Once trained, they will also come when they are called from one side to the other side of the pasture.
2. Train cows to move at walk speed
When cattle are being switched between paddocks, their movement should be controlled and kept to a walking speed. There are several methods that can be used to train cows to move at walking speed. The most important places to control their movement is when they are passing through a gate. Many ranchers call their cows and make them stop at the gate before they let them into the pastures. Some farmers also stand at the gate and apply the flight zone principles to slow their movement down as they pass through the gate. Another method of controlling cattle movement is to guide them on a horse, vehicle, or on foot, on to the pasture. If you have trained your cows well, you’ll be able to lead them through several pastures, because they’ll be trained enough to know that they’ll be lead to a place with better feed.
3. Train them feeding manners
Ranchers also need to train hungry cows the proper eating manners. Hungry cows pushing and shoving other cows and humans can be dangerous. They need to be taught that pushing and shoving people and grabbing feed off the four-wheeler, is not acceptable. They must be taught that they should not push people. Expert cow handlers have been successful in training their herd to stand back and wait for their feed to be dumped and laid out for them. One way of teaching cows manners,is to hit the ground with a stick if they move forward, and tell them “no”. However, you should avoid hitting the animals. Do not feed them until they stand back and behave properly. When they are well trained and tamed, they will like to get their back scratched when they behave well. Reward them when they behave well, and remove rewards if they do not. They will learn to associate rewards with good behavior. Some animals may never stop aggressive behavior, pushing and butting. These should be separated, removed from the herd and culled.
4. Reward them with treats
Make the first experience of animals a good one. To encourage their proper behavior, come into the corrals and to move easily through the handling facilities, reward them with treats after they have walked through the chutes. Train yearling heifers to move through the race so that when they become mother cows, they can help other members of the herd to go through the system. It will be easier to handle animals in the corals if their first experience in the corals is handled with feed, quiet and calm. Take the time to walk calves and yearlings through the handling system with feed and rewards, and it will produce adult animals that are easier to handle.
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