Humane handling reduces stress on animals while promoting the safety of the people working with them. The Dairy Calf & Heifer Association's Gold Standards III, which focuses on animal welfare for dairy calves and heifers, offers gudelines to follow when you are handling calves and heifers.
A. Handle all cattle as gently as possible and work to keep them calm at all times. Minimize noise level - no yelling or screaming when moving cattle.
B. Handling aids only should be used when absolutely necessary, and then only by trained employees.
C. NEVER strike an animal.
D. Establish and demonstrate written and signed protocols for employees regarding acceptable and unacceptable cattle-handling practices; review quarterly.
E. Establish a zero-tolerance policy for animal abuse, indicating automatic employee dismissal for inappropriate animal handling.
F. Provide extra attention to animals that are sick and/or immobile.
1. Immediately move sick animals to an isolation pen.
2. Observe sick animals frequently throughout the day.
3. If an animal is unable to walk, it should be moved only with a cart or sled.
4. Care should be provided according to the prescribed directions of the herd veterinarian.
For additional handling information, refer to these resources listed in the Gold Standards III.
- NMPF Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Animal Care Manual
- National Dairy Animal Well-Being Initiative, Principles and Guidelines for Dairy Animal Well-Being
- Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching, Third Edition
- Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) guidelines
Read archived versions of DCHA's Tip of the Week for more tips from the Gold Standards III and other calf-raising tips.
Source: Dairy Calf & Heifer Association