Thursday, June 10, 2010

Temple Grandin - Humane Livestock Handling

I am providing an excerpt from Temple's book for review. It discusses the specifics of moving cattle to a new pasture:

“Moving cattle on pasture works on a continuum of behaviors, from hardwired instinctual behaviors to completely trained cattle that can be led by a handler. On smaller farms and on ranches using intensive grazing, mother cows and ewes can be taught to come when called and be led by a person or a vehicle to new pastures. Animals can be trained to respond to a specific call or horn and not just to the sight of a vehicle or person. This completely voluntary movement is not stressful to the animals when done correctly. Animals should always be moved at a walk.

Nothing is worse than babies being left behind while the mothers are hungrily chasing your truck around a pasture while you are fixing fences. This is very stressful for the calves and the lambs and can slow down necessary weight gain. If you blow the horn for a few seconds before putting out feed, the animals will learn to associate the horn with being fed instead of the sight of the vehicle. This keeps the cows from following the truck when you are trying to do other chores.

Livestock movement to a new location should always be controlled. The animals must never be allowed to run into a new pasture or out of the old one. The handler should drive or walk close to areas where the animals are grazing before calling them. A vehicle or a person should stay in front and lead the animals through the gate or park at the gate to control movement. Remember: Don’t let cows or ewes get in the habit of running or those babies will be left behind.”

I will provide my thoughts and recent experiences in my next post.

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