Good stockmanship is the basis of low-stress animal-handling skills.

“I believe that stockmanship is the preferred method of caring for livestock at all times,” says Brian Voortman, veterinarian from Caldwell, Idaho.

During an educational session at the 2012 Dairy Calf & Heifer Association Conference, held last month in Visalia, Calif., Voortman explained why good stockmanship is important.

“It has been scientifically proven that there’s an improvement in animal health and productivity with minimal financial input,” he said. “All you have to invest is a little bit of time and a little bit of energy in understanding these things and putting them into practice.”

The investment in good stockmanship is very economical, particularly when compared to other inputs on your operation.

“Everybody’s looking for the next big ‘silver bullet,’ or the next big antibiotic out there or the next big feed additive,” Voortman said. “Those things all cost money. This is an input that costs you literally nothing. It is simply training and understanding and changing the way you think about your cattle.”

Advantages of good stockmanship and low-stress cattle handling extend to employees, too.

“There’s a dramatic improvement in work environment, safety, efficiency and employee satisfaction in the places where we’ve implemented (good stockmanship principles),” Voortman said. “They have literally almost no employee turnover because their employees are so happy to be there.  Plus you don’t put your employees into situations where they could get hurt ─ that costs you money.”

According to DCHA’s Gold Standards III, humane handling not only promotes employee safety, but also reduces stress on animals. For more advice on low-stress, humane animal handling, please see the Gold Standards III and Section IV-D of the Dairy Animal Care & Quality Assurance (DACQA) Certification Manual.