Train employees on cattle handling

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At the American Meat Institute meeting this week in Kansas City, Mo., animal handling expert Temple Grandin, PhD, Colorado State University, spoke to the audience about training employees to handle cattle in working facilities, whether at a feedlot or packing plant.

Among the most basic principles of animal handling in facilities includes:

1. Teach employees the principles of flight zones in cattle.

2. Teach employees about the point-of-balance of cattle, i.e., stand behind the shoulder to move an animal forward.

3. Discourage loud noises and yelling.

4. Move animals in small groups at a time instead of one large group.

5. Fill the crowd pen only ½ full for easier movement of a group of cattle. “Don’t use crowd pens as a ‘pass through’ pen,” Grandin says. “Don’t let cattle just stand there.”

6. Get electric prods out of employees’ hands.

Grandin also says alleviating stress, fear and distraction in working facilities includes:

  • Watching the ears of cattle to see what they are focused on.
  • Tying up back stops, especially if they are numerous in chute, to prevent balking.
  • Notice rapid movements such as paper towels fluttering next to a chute or fans above chutes that are powered off but the blades are turning in the wind.
  • Look for reflections on a wet floor that may cause cattle to balk or brightly colored objects such as yellow hoses, hard hats or clothing that cattle can see.
  • Use woven tire mats inside or at chute exits to prevent slipping.

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