There is developing evidence that temperament influences the immune function of cattle.
When handled or restrained, cattle with a more excitable disposition have been shown to have greater levels of certain hormones that can suppress the immune system. In addition to immune response, these cattle also have poorer growth performance and carcass characteristics.
That is why it is so important to use management practices that reduce the negative influence of temperament on growth and productivity.
The Dairy Animal Care & Quality Assurance (DACQA) Certification manual provides information to help you handle and restrain animals in an appropriate manner that minimizes stress.
Here are some key points to consider:
- Handle cattle quietly and calmly. Instead of electric prods, use plastic paddles, sorting sticks, flags or streamers attached to long handles to quietly guide and turn animals. Utilize the cattle’s natural flight zone and point of balance to move them (For more information on flight zone and point of balance, see Section IV-D of the DACQA manual.)
- Keep facilities and equipment in good condition to provide efficient movement and reduce stress when working cattle.
- Restraint equipment should quickly and securely restrain the animal and allow for the quick release of the animal upon completion of the procedures. Pens, chutes and headlocks should be properly sized and kept clean and in good repair.
- When transporting cattle, move them as quietly and patiently as possible to prevent stress or injury during loading and unloading.
For more advice, see Section IV-D of the DACQA manual.
DACQA is a voluntary, national certification program intended to enhance and demonstrate quality animal care practices that assure food safety, quality and value as well as enhance consumer confidence in the milk and beef products harvested from cattle on America’s dairy farms.
DCHA is the only national association dedicated to serving the dairy calf and heifer industry. The association strives to provide information, education and access to leading research and technology to its members and the calf and heifer industry. DCHA’s Gold Standards III also offers practical recommendations for humane handling of dairy calves and heifers, from birth to freshening.