Revised on
01/08/19 10:21am

Animal Handling Ergonomics

Occ Health Header with picture of cow


Cow Handling Ergonomics

General Tips to Cow Handling

Do's Don'ts
Show confidence and kindness Don't push, shove or strike
Move slow and deliberate Don't force animal in a corner
Use your voice to communicate Don't approach from behind
Maintain a safe distance Don't stand too close

Ergonomic Steps to Animal Handling

1.) Awareness of Surroundings

  • Remove all objects (i.e gates) that impede your movement and ensure a clear path to your destination
  • Do not stand between the animal and heavy solid object
  • Be aware of opening and closing of gates from outside the pen
  • Always give the animal somewhere to go and never force it into a corner

2.) Establish a Escape Route

  • If a cow approaches, do not put your hands in front of you ("push away" stance). This makes a person look thin.
  • If a cow approaches, do put your hands to the side to make yourself as wide as possible. This makes a person look like a wall.
  • Always think beforehand of an escape route

3.) Appropriate Interactions

  • Always remain calm and relaxed when dealing with animals
  • Animals will sense if you are nervous or on edge
  • Don't make loud noises or sudden gestures
  • The point of balance (movement) is at the cow's shoulder and understand the cow's flight zone

4.) Mother and Calf Interactions

  • Mother are extremely protective of the calves
  • Do not approach a calf and mother in a pen

5.) Working Around Cattle

  • Cows do not understand you.
  • Use your voice to inform your cattle and never sneak up on a cow
  • Approach from the side of the cow. Cows have poor vision at the front and rear
  • Always move slow yet stern manner
  • Move cattle in small groups rather than isolate individuals
  • Always close gates behind you as you go

6.) Proper Milking Techniques

  • Have a rail so the cow cannot move sideways
  • Ensure cow is secure through ties or in a head lock
  • Leg ropes and hip clamps should be only used by experienced users
  • Have an exit strategy with the animal gets uncontrollable
  • Always use a stool or kneeling pad when milking
  • Take breaks every 20 minutes of milking to reduce strain