5 Tips to Efficiently Handle Cattle

Raise your hand if you’ve lost your temper while working cattle. Better yet, raise your hand if your dad or grandpa lost their temper while trying to move animals. Everyone’s hand is probably up.

We’re all guilty of yelling and screaming at cattle and anyone helping us move them. Contrary to what you’ve been doing, the loud noises and frustrated tone isn’t the most effective way to get a job done.

“I have a saying: If you’ve got a half hour, and you want to get something done with cattle, go do something else,” says Dick Hauser of Neptune Enterprises. “When you’ve got plenty of time, decide to work with your cattle, and you’ll probably get it done faster.”

Hauser credits tips and advice from Temple Grandin, a prominent author and speaker on animal behavior. Today she is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University.

Cattle Handling Tips

  1. Bring cattle into a reasonably-sized pen calmly and quietly. Cattle move slow – much slower than we’d like – but do not rush them or get them excited.
  2. Organize cattle in smaller groups. A few animals go through much easier than a large group, and you’ll get more done.
  3. The longer alley you have between the tub and shoot is an opportunity to get more cattle lined up and processed.
  4. Low sides in an alley allows for the cow to see you. The cow needs to see you so you can telegraph to the cow what they need to do.
  5. A cow is a herding animal. When you’re in the shoot, put equal pressure (not hard) on both sides. You’ll find the animal quiets down, it’s a less traumatic experience for the animal and it’s easier to work with them in the future.

Wisconsin is home to 285,000 beef cows that can be found in nearly every county, according to Wisconsin Ag in the Classroom. Hauser notices that most people entering the beef industry have been in dairy farming.

“A dairy cow is a totally different animal. They’re used to working around and with people,” he says. “The beef animal has nothing wrong with people, but it’s not used to being worked with as much.”

Looking for another tool? Hauser says flag sticks have come in handy for him. These are fiberglass poles meant to be used as an extension of your arm. You don’t touch cattle with the flag stick but instead, flap it and wave it back and forth and the cattle tend to follow it. “It’s one of the best tools I’ve found lately to work cattle with,” he says.

Farm safety is crucial when working with livestock. By following these tips, farmers can create a safe environment on their farms. Reach out to a local insurance agent to protect your farm.