Change Your Handling and Herding Hang-Ups

Who: Anyone in the cattle industry.

Why: Public perception, safety, QA programs, money.

Where: In the pastures, corrals, barns, handling facilities, trucks.

When: Starting now - anytime you handle cattle.

What: Your attitude, perception, skills, and tools.

Using Animal Behaviour

  • Cattle see differently - panoramic vision - poor vision
  • Cattle have a flight zone
  • Cattle have a point of balance
  • Cattle have a herding instinct
  • Cattle will circle around
  • Cattle like light and will move toward it.
  • Cattle are stressed by noise

How do we use these behaviours?

  • solid sides facilities, well lit handling areas, and trucks, Circular chutes, move cattle back to herdmates
  • keep noise to a minimum, work cattle from the hip not behind, keep out of sight unless needed
  • slow Down -2.2 miles /hr., Don't overcrowd the pens or chutes
  • learn to read the body language and react appropriately
  • we keep trying-because old habits don't change over night

Burt Smith's Universal Laws of Herding

  1. If the flight zone is penetrated, the animal will move.
  2. There is no such thing as one best position or maneuver for all circumstances nor for all times.
  3. What ever you are doing you are doing it too fast.
  4. It's never the animal's fault.
  5. When attempting to move animals through a gate, they must first see that the gate is open.
  6. For every task there is a corresponding degree of patience required to complete it in a minimum amount of time.
  7. Step forward to make them go faster and step back to make them slow down.
  8. If you want an animal to go somewhere, it must have room to go there.

Calm, controlled handling doesn't make you a wimp. It proves you are smarter than the cattle, and want to make them turn the most money for you.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Nancy Noecker - Cow Calf Specialist/OMAFRA
Creation Date: 19 July 2000
Last Reviewed: 14 June 2010