"Reducing Stress In Cattle"

Ranchers who attended The Beef Cattle Short Course held at Texas A&M earlier this month attended workshops and listened to speakers addressing everything from drought and rising production costs to emerging diseases and weakened beef markets. One of the issues discussed was management techniques that can reduce stress on livestock. Joe Brown has more in this week’s From The Ground Up.

"There are some very subtle things you can do that are very easy to accomplish, that makes that whole process smoother, quieter, and more economical for you."

Ron Gill is an Agri-Life Extension livestock specialist.

"We don’t work with them enough to train them, basically, to handle right, and so when we get in those situations it’s more stressful. The cattle don’t know what we want them to do. A lot of times we don’t know how to ask them, what we want them to do, and there’s no difference in working a cow than there is working a person. If they know what you want them to do, they’re much more likely to do it, and understand that when they go do it, it’s not gonna cause them harm."

Gill says if you’re following a cow and want her to move forward, you’re sending the wrong message.

"We’re going to ask them to turn around when we’re really wanting them to go forward. So just a little bit of repositioning so they can keep there eye on us and understand what we’re asking them to do, and not facilitate that turn around, makes the whole process easier."

Gill maintains that facilities and fencing have led to a loss in understanding of cattle behavior.

"You can draw a cow to you, a lot easier than you can push her somewhere. We really focus on changing the mentality of the way livestock’s been handled for years, in going back to the days when basically they herded cattle free range in this country. When you didn’t have fences to control them, you had to be in the right place."

Sometimes a look back in history can provide valuable results.

"The more we go to a simplistic approach to livestock handling, the easier the cattle handle. The less tools we use in trying to handle cattle, the better the cattle handle. It’s one of the easiest ways we can capture traditional income, without cost. "

And that will cause some producers to take a closer look. I’m Joe Brown, looking at Brazos Valley Agriculture, From The Ground Up.

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