This week we will be looking at Safe Handling of your cattle both on the farm, ranch or feedlot as well as loading and unloading at your destination when delivering cattle. For those of you who have attended NCBA’s “Stockman & Stewardship” class at a BQA event near you, some of the following information will be a good refresher.
Cattle have a wide area of peripheral vision, with only a small blind spot immediately behind the animal.
Do not approach cattle from directly behind.
* Flight Zone
The flight zone is the distance that the cattle can be from you and still feel comfortable.
You can use the flight zone to quietly move cattle.
* Point of Balance and Movement
- There is a place on the shoulder of the animal called the point of balance.
- You can use this point to encourage the animal to go forward and backward.
- You should move cattle calmly and slowly with your hands and arms at your sides.
- Quick movements and loud noises like "calling" or whistling will make moving cattle more difficult.
* Moving Aids
“Persuaders” such as flags, plastic paddles, and a stick with plastic ribbons should replace electric prods as much as possible. An electric prod should NOT be a person’s primary driving tool. It should only be picked up and used when absolutely required to move a stubborn animal and then should be put back down.
“Persuaders” are the best tools for moving cattle. These devices can be used to turn cattle by blocking their vision on one side of their head.
Checklist: PRIOR TO LOADING
* Clean truck:
- Between species
- Between changes from feeders to fat cattle
- Once a day
- Clean top to bottom, front to back, inside to outside
* Driver’s schedule for the day – needs to know:
- Specific locations of load pickups and drop offs
- Phone numbers of producers at pickup and drop off
- Approximate loading time
- Other relevant information about the shipment
- Correct pen number
- Correct lot number
- Sale barn buyer number
- Head count and loading instruction
Checklist: FOR UNLOADING
- Determine if you are at the correct facility before unloading. Don't laugh! It's happened.
- Weigh your truck if cattle are to be weighed on the truck.
- Back the trailer up to unloading chute squarely and evenly.
- Determine if unloading chute is in good repair (if portable, it must be properly anchored to truck).
- Chock the trailers wheel's.
- Make sure the gates to the destination pen are open and the path is clear, then unload cattle from the truck.
- Use good, low stress handling procedures. (See above "Point of balance" section).
- Be sure the holding pen gate is shut for the cattle before pulling away from the chute.
- Weigh truck empty, unless cattle are weighed on the ground.
- Give all documents to the recipient of the cattle (health certificate, inspection papers, brand papers, etc.).
Most of what we just reviewed is common sense, right? But for those of us that may transport cattle frequently, we can sometimes overlook the simplest safe handeling procedures, and that one detail can have a devistating outcome. Let's all be safe out there.
When we reconvene next week, we will be focusing on “MIG” & “MOB” grazing of cattle.