Cattle Handling Pointers

Thanks to Rich Machen and Ron Gill for this helpful information! Safe and effective cattle handling has always been important. In the last few years there has been a move toward what has been called low-stress handling or as we prefer to call it a return to sound effective stockmanship. The animal industries must not tolerate any form of abusive behavior or handling of livestock. The culture of handling on any operation originates from upper management and is expressed by the workers on the ground.  Most cattle handlers, and it does not matter if you are a “cowboy, cowgirl, buckaroo, cow hand, cow man, farm hand or stockman”, have learned by watching someone else work stock. Everyone thinks they know how to “work cattle” because they have always been able to get the job done. The moment you admit you do not know everything is the starting point for improving handling skills. If you have had a thought similar to “that stupid ole’ cow” you have room to improve your abilities as a stockman. Cattle are not stupid and usually do what they are asked to do. However, if asked incorrectly cattle will likely not respond as intended. When this happens we have come to rely on facilities, equipment or manpower to force them to do what is needed. This results in increased stress on cattle and handlers and results in cattle becoming more difficult to handle. In a very simple explanation of stress… If you decide to do something it is not stressful; if you are for

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One thought on “Cattle Handling Pointers

  1. Nice article!
    Stockmanship, especially low-stress livestock handling (the subject of this article) has been essential in many of our range management projects, especially re-kindling the herd instinct to facilitate strategic grazing management and prevent livestock-wildlife conflicts.
    One suggestion I have is that the diagrams would be improved if they incorporated the “pressure zone” around the “flight zone,” as defined by Smith (1998) and in the glossary of the Stockmanship Journal (

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