Handling and moving cattle

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Source: National Farm Animal Care Council, Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle Section 4.1

There is less risk of injury to both animals and handlers when cattle are handled quietly and calmly. Experienced handlers who are aware of cattle behaviour, including herd instinct, flight zone and point of balance, reaction to wind, noise, sudden movements, light contrast or shadows etc. will be able to move cattle more smoothly. This will minimize stress and promote cattle welfare.

REQUIREMENTS

Animal handlers must be familiar with cattle behaviour (through training, experience or mentorship) and use quiet handling techniques.

Electric prods must only be used to assist movement of cattle when animal or human safety is at risk or as a last resort when all other humane alternatives have failed and only when cattle have a clear path to move.

Do not use electric prods repeatedly on the same animal.

Do not use electric prods on the genitals, face, udder or anal areas.

Do not use electric prods on calves less than three months of age that can be moved manually.

Willful mistreatment or intentional harm of cattle is unacceptable. This includes but is not limited to: beating an animal; slamming gates on animals; allowing herd dogs to continue pushing cattle with nowhere to move; dragging or pushing cattle with machinery (unless to protect animal or human safety).

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. adjust your handling techniques and positioning according to the response of the animals and the situation
  2. take a course in cattle handling techniques
  3. use handling tools, such as flags, plastic paddles or rattles, to direct animal movement
  4. evaluate your cattle handling techniques regularly, and make improvements to them as needed (27). Factors to consider include the percentage of cattle:
    • falling (belly or torso touches the ground) during handling
    • stumbling or tripping (knee contacts ground) after being released from the chute
    • requiring the use of electric prods to move
    • running or jumping when leaving the chute
    • vocalizing as a result of restraint.

Increasing levels of the above handling events may indicate a need for changes in lighting, noise levels, equipment, handling methods, or environment.

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