Tips for implementing low-stress livestock handling

With livestock farming, it’s important to note the lifestyle effects that stressful animal handling can have on your cattle and their physical wellbeing. While it might not seem that way, animals, much like humans, experience the same type of emotional stress when they’re uncomfortable in certain situations.

When animals feel threatened or unsafe in a particular environment, they will start to develop health issues which is visible in their physical conditions. Not only is this detrimental to their health, but also to your business growth as stressful livestock handling can result in sick animals and poor meat conditions.

Understanding why low-stress handling is important  

Livestock which is treated poorly will start to show physical signs in their growth and reproduction potential. These two factors will stunt your business’ growth, as you will not be able to deliver high-quality meat from your production. When you handle animals in large groups, it’s important to speak to professionals and learn more about the animals you have. This will help you to adjust your handling approach.  

If they feel that you’re invading their personal space, their fight or flight mode will start to kick in. Usually, they will start to become stressed out and run away from the rest of the herd, but if you have enough experience in dealing with these moments, you will be able to plan accordingly for a successful handling. The right way would be to move animals in such a way that they feel comfortable and relaxed before, during and after the handling. If you or your cattle handlers are inexperienced and handle your herd incorrectly, it could put you in danger and increase your chances of an unwanted injury.

Here are a few tips to consider when handling your livestock.

Take as much time as you need: Be it for rotational grazing purposes, leading them to a new feed or to restore your pasture, you need to take time and allow them to settle down before moving them. When there is a lot of movement around them, they start to sense that something is strange, which will already cause them to feel stressed out or anxious. In order to succeed with this entire process, you need to be able to move around their pen in a calm manner, without agitating them.  

Don’t force cattle into small areas: Because livestock will already start to feel stressed out and agitated from the minute you create noise or movement around them, the last thing you need to do is overcrowd the area you’re moving them to or move them into a tight area where you put cows and calves together. Wherever you move them, they should still be able to move around freely without feeling restricted.

Eliminate loud noises around cattle: As briefly mentioned, livestock can be sensitive to loud noises or strange movements they’re unfamiliar with. Try to keep your actions and farm equipment as quiet as possible. For example, avoid starting up machinery or allowing several handlers to walk around them at once. Raising your voice can make cows feel pressured, therefore, be sure to move slowly around them.

Keep livestock together: When you handle your livestock, try to work with groups of animals at a time. But stay away from overcrowding spaces. Do not isolate your animals and face them one-on-one as this will cause them to feel stressed out and scared. Another tip when keeping animals together is to always transport animals in a group. However, make sure to stock your trailer with less than it accommodates.

Final thoughts

As you can see, low-stress handling is essential for business success. If your animals are healthy and well cared for, you will be able to increase sales and boost your bottom line. Effective handling will come in handy for a variety of reasons. For example, when moving your cattle to a new pasture or adapting them to your new horizontal feed mixer design. If you want to introduce sustainable feeding methods, which will also add to your cattle’s health in its entirety, look at buying a feed mixer from Radium’s range of Matrix Feed Mixers. This way, you will be able to mix your own feed and keep your animals healthy. All it takes is some extra effort and time to understand your livestock’s behaviour, their needs and how to improve their performance. With the right farming equipment and knowledge, you will have a profitable herd.