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Low-Stress Animal Handling How-To Videos

By   /  June 15, 2015  /  Comments Off on Low-Stress Animal Handling How-To Videos

Wouldn’t it be nice to see low-stress handlers in action so that you can pick up their techniques and use them at your place? Here are some videos that do just that for you.

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These videos come to us from Australia’s New South Wales Department of Education and Community. They do a great job of showing how to move animals quietly and easily. What I like about them is that they show the kinds of movements that you need to group and move cattle in pasture and then to work them in corrals and chute systems. And while they show cattle, these techniques are fine for any herd animals. The videos are short too, less than 10 minutes for all of them together, so grab a cup of coffee or a glass of something cold and take a break that will make your life easier down the road.

Mustering Cattle

This is the gathering phase in pasture with great reminders to think about what kind of animals you’re about to move and why. See how the riders move from side to side, left to right and back again behind the herd? That’s what lets all the members of the herd see you so that they keep moving forward. The side to side movement puts on pressure, and then releases it as you move on.  I don’t usually have a person in the front leading the way when I do this, but I can see how it could have helped me on a number of occasions.  Replace their motorcycles with your preferred mode of pasture transportation, and you’ve adapted this to your own place. (2:16)

Tablet readers, here’s your link.

Safety in the Yards

The beauty of this video is how it shows you “Parallel Movement” in action. When you move with the animals, they slow down. When you walk from head to tail parallel with the animal it speeds up an droves forward. They also do a great job of showing how walking toward a group of animals encourages them to curve around you and head for the gate.  I’ve never tried those little jumps up and down that you’ll see in this video, but again, it seems to work and I think I’ll try it next time.  Last but not least, take note of how the herders work together at gates to coordinate and protect each other from flighty animals. (3:24)

And the link for our tablet readers.

The Flight Zone

You’ve heard people talk about this. Now here’s a video that shows just what it means and how your behavior changes its size. (1:31) Note that cows move around us in a curve just like sheep.

The tablet readers’ link.

Moving Cattle in the Yards Without Noise or Contact

“Yards” are what we call “pens” in the U.S. and the “force” is the smallest pen just before they walk into the “race” or “alley.” The “crush” is our squeeze chute.  And that “livestock talker?” That’s the stick with a plastic bag on the end that some of us use to help us move animals. Now that you’ve got the language, you can see how easy it is to move the animals through. Again, note how they use parallel movements by walking with the animal to slow it down, or from nose to tail to speed up and make it move forward. (2:29)

Tablet readers, your link.

Probably the best thing about these videos is the emphasis in each of them on communicating with the people you’re working with so you’re all the same page. That small step alone will reduce the noise volume when you’re working livestock together.

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About the author

editor and contributor

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.

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