Animal Handling

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 an 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