Behavioral principles of livestock handling
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Reducing stress during handling will improve productivity and prevent physiological changes that could confound research results or lower productivity. Handling stresses lower conception rates and reduces both immune and rumen function. Handlers who understand livestock behavior can reduce stress. Livestock have wide angle vision and they are easily frightened by shadows or moving distractions outside of chutes. Solid sides on chutes will reduce agitation and excitement. Noise should be kept to a minimum because animals have sensitive hearing. When wild cattle or sheep are handled the handler should work on the edge of the fight zone to avoid agitation. Cattle, pigs, and sheep are herd animals and isolation of a single individual should be avoided. An animal's previous experience with handling will affect its reaction to handling in the future. Animals which have had frequent gentle contact with people will be less stressed during handling than animals which have had previous aversive treatment. Livestock can be trained to voluntarily enter a restraining device. The restraint device should be gradually introduced and should not cause pain. Feed rewards will facilitate training. Training animals to voluntarily submit to handling procedures would be especially useful for valuable breeding animals and animals used for research.