Low Stress Handling: Silence is Golden

What I’m going to talk about today isn’t necessarily new or revolutionary, but it’s something a lot of us need to be reminded of from time to time. As we were bringing a group of cattle up to the hospital barn for treatment today, the doctors started whooping and whistling and hollering as we got close to the barn. Almost on cue, both ears on every animal pointed straight back at them and the cattle stopped. A bit more noise and they turned around to face them. After some screaming and arm waving, they got the cattle locked behind the bud box. 
Excessive noise will almost always have a negative impact on cattle movement. It’s important to remember as we trail cattle up an alley, that we let them focus on where they are going, rather than where we are. If we set the cattle up for movement from the moment we approach the holding pen, they will go almost anywhere regardless of distractions. Here’s a few tips for bringing cattle up to the hospital or processing barn. 
First, the cattle are looking to you for guidance as soon as you come into their line of sight. You can use this to figure out which animals want the guidance and are going to lead the group out.
Don’t go immediately to the back of the pen and push the cattle out. Find your friend looking for guidance and use pressure and release to work him out of the pen. Always remember to work his eye, work him from the side, and if he hesitates, show him the way again. If all goes well, he will give the others confidence and you can lean on the fence and check Facebook while they all walk out. 
As the cattle move up the alley, don’t be a distraction. This is where silence is golden!!!! If the cattle balk hold them and let them figure out where to go. Cattle only process one thought at a time, so if they’re distracted by something in front and you hollering in the back, they’ll go back to a safe place, usually the holding pen. 
Finally, minimize distractions along the way. Turn off the chute and radio, and make sure your co workers know not to loiter around the barn as you’re moving the cattle. If you take care of these little things, it should make handling around the barn a lot simpler and safer. 

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