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“Stress” less with good stockmanship


By Jerrold Tesmer

Fri, Nov 29th, 2013
Posted in All Agriculture

Moving and handling 1,400-pound animals is not a job for everyone – it is however, one that dairy farmers do every day. Across the Midwest large dairy cattle are moved to and from the parlor several times each day. Livestock related injuries account for a high rate of lost work days.

People are a major source of anxiety for the cow. Stressed cattle are more difficult to handle and this puts workers at an increased risk of injury. Much of a cow’s anxiety comes from how they are handled. Studies have shown cows handled by a careless handler had reduced milk efficiency compared to cows with gentle handlers. Cattle learn to recognize individuals and can distinguish between those who treat them gently and those who do not.

Dairy stockmanship focuses on the handling interactions (i.e. communication) between humans and cows and includes low-stress handling techniques of the basic, natural movements of cattle and is a method for humans to interact with cows in a way that cows understand. Knowing cattle behavior is the key to good stockmanship. For instance, walking in the same direction as a cow will tend to slow her down or stop her. Walking in the opposite direction will tend to speed her movement.

This safe and effective method of cow movements has many benefits including calm and relaxed cows at milking, minimal defecation and kicking in the parlor, and improved milk let-down. Additionally, farmers using stockmanship methods are less likely to be injured and face fewer challenges moving cattle.

Interested in exploring stockmanship principles for your dairy operation? The University of Minnesota Extension and the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center are sponsoring a one-day workshop to review the principles of dairy stockmanship. The first half of the day will be classroom discussion and the second half will be spent on a dairy farm modeling the principles and interactions.

Applying Dairy Stockmanship Principles will be at the Heintz Center, 1926 Collegeview Rd, Rochester Minn. 55904 on Thursday, January 9, 9:30-3 (lunch included). For more information or to register contact: Carol Peterson – email: ctrefry@umn.edu or call 612-625-8347 or cell: 507-381-4873.

Learn more about dairy stockmanship at: http://purl.umn.edu/57210

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