Be Calm and Un­der­stand Cat­tle Be­fore Get­ting in Cor­rals

The Drumheller Mail - - AGSAFE FAMILY - Amy Peth­er­ick

As part of this year’s “Ap­peal­ing to Adults” Cana­dian Agri­cul­tural Safety Week cam­paign, the Cana­dian Agri­cul­tural Safety As­so­ci­a­tion re­minds farm­ers that cat­tle see the world dif­fer­ently. Hav­ing a bet­ter idea of what cat­tle see can pre­vent in­jury and even death.

When it comes to an­i­mal­re­lated in­juries, hu­man er­ror is of­ten the cause. Cana­dian Agri­cul­tural In­jury Re­port­ing has found that an­i­mal­re­lated fa­tal­i­ties ac­count for 8% of all agri­cul­ture-re­lated deaths in Canada. Of that, 45% of these an­i­mal-re­lated fa­tal­i­ties are due to cat­tle.

In­jury pre­ven­tion starts by us­ing low stress han­dling tech­niques. In or­der to avoid ex­cit­ing cat­tle, al­ways keep calm while work­ing with them. Not only does this mind­set prove to be good for han­dlers, it’s also good for the cat­tle. Calm cat­tle have higher daily weight gains on av­er­age. In fact, re­search shows high stress as­so­ci­ated with han­dling con­trib­utes to lower fe­male re­pro­duc­tive func­tion, less milk pro­duc­tion and higher rates of sick­ness. So keep move­ments slow and pur­pose­ful. Rough or ag­gres­sive han­dling is never ac­cept­able.

When work­ing with cat­tle, keep han­dling ar­eas free of de­bris and well lit. Re­move twine, feed bags, and other de­bris from the area and clear any ice or mud from con­crete sur­faces to pre­vent slips. Wear steel toed boots to im­prove foot­ing and pro­tect your toes from crush in­juries. When choos­ing your clothes, re­mem­ber snug-fit­ting pants and long sleeves are the best bet. Any­thing that might flap in the wind or catch the sun­light could star­tle cat­tle, so be sure to also tie back long hair and re­move all jew­elry.

Hu­mans have a 140-de­gree field of vi­sion but be­cause of the shape and po­si­tion of their eyes, cat­tle have up to 300 de­grees of sight. But be­cause of this in­cred­i­ble panoramic vi­sion, cat­tle can see things in all di­rec­tions with­out mov­ing their heads (ex­cept for di­rectly be­hind them.). Cat­tle have poor depth per­cep­tion, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for them to in­ter­pret shad­ows or sud­den mo­tions. Re­mem­ber to give cat­tle the op­por­tu­nity to take a good look at the ob­jects in their path from a dis­tance be­fore mov­ing them to­wards those ob­jects. Pa­tience and un­der­stand­ing is key.

It’s also im­por­tant to use a soft voice. Cat­tle rely on their keen sense of hear­ing so any loud noise is dis­turb­ing. Be par­tic­u­larly mind­ful that cat­tle strug­gle to iden­tify where sounds come from. Since loud noises can some­times be un­ex­pected and hard to con­trol, it is al­ways good to have an es­cape route in mind be­fore you start work­ing in any con­fined space with cat­tle.

Learn to watch for signs of ag­i­ta­tion at all times. Con­sider loud bel­low­ing, paw­ing at the ground, er­ratic move­ments, raised ears, and snort­ing as dan­ger signs. A low­ered head and raised tail usu­ally in­di­cate a hos­tile an­i­mal. If you no­tice ag­gres­sive be­hav­iour, re­move your­self from the sit­u­a­tion un­til the an­i­mal calms down. Even when cat­tle are calm, make ev­ery ef­fort to stay out of kick­ing range.

Visit agsafe­ty­week.ca and check out the re­sources in­clud­ing tool­box talks on top­ics like op­er­at­ing por­ta­ble augers, trans­port­ing over­sized loads and more.

About Cana­dian Agri­cul­tural Safety Week:

Cana­dian Agri­cul­tural Safety Week (CASW) is a pub­lic aware­ness cam­paign fo­cus­ing on the im­por­tance of farm safety. CASW takes place ev­ery year dur­ing the third week of March. In 2017, CASW takes place March 12 to 18. CASW 2017 is pre­sented by Farm Credit Canada. For more in­for­ma­tion visit agsafe­ty­week.ca.

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