Improving Animal Welfare: A Practical Approach
Edited by Dr. Temple Grandin
Colorado State University, USA
c. 336 pages
Subject Classifcation: KNAC, PSVP, TVH, TW
Territorial Market Rights: World
Published by CABI
Links for ordering:
Chapter 5: How to improve livestock handling and reduce stress.
by Temple Grandin
Some of the subjects covered in this chapter are basic principles of handling extensively raised animals and tame intensively housed animals. There are many photos to help managers and veterinarians locate and remove distractions that disrupt animal movement such as shadows, dangling ropes, and changes in flooring. It covers cattle, pigs, sheep, horses, and poultry. It also contains the following diagrams and photos:
- Flight zone diagram
- Point of balance diagram
- Recommended driving aids
- Cattle handling and truck loading facility
- Sheep handling and truck loading facility
- Leader goat for moving sheep
Below is an excerpt from Chapter 5...
Remove distractions from handling facilities
Extensively raised livestock and animals that are trained to lead may often stop and refuse to move past little distractions that people do not notice.
Animals are very sensitive to both high contrasts of light and dark and rapid movement. They notice visual detail in their environment that people often fail to notice. A calm animal will look right at a distraction such as a shirt hung on a corral fence. A frightened animal that is being forced to move towards the shirt will often turn back and try to run back past the handler. People need to be aware of the distractions that frighten animals. Handlers should walk through their races and corrals and look for distractions that can stop cattle movement. Distractions cause the most problems with animals that are not familiar with the handling facilities. Below is a list of common distractions that can cause animals to stop and refuse to move through a race or other handling facility:
- Shadows or bright sunbeams of light are often a problem on sunny days. Livestock may refuse to walk over them (Fig. 5.5). In Fig. 5.6 the pigs are avoiding walking on the shadows and they are balking at the metal strip. Allow the leader time to put its head down to investigate a shadow. After it has determined that the shadow is safe, it will lead the others over the shadow. If the handlers rush the leaderís investigation of a shadow, the animals may turn back on the handlers. When an animal is being led, allow it time to put its head down and investigate the shadow, before urging It to walk over it.
- Objects on the fence or in the race such as loose chains or shirts should be removed. In Fig. 5.7 the animal is refusing to move past a dangling rope. Cattle may refuse to move past a shirt that is hung on a fence. A little loose chain that swings may also stop cattle movement. Bright yellow clothes and objects are especially bad. Objects with high contrasts of light and dark cause the most problems.
- Vehicles parked outside the corrals may also cause problems. A shiny reflection on the bumper of a car may stop animal movement. The vehicles should be moved.
- Livestock will often refuse to approach visible people who are standing up ahead. The people should either move or a shield can be installed so that the cattle do not see the people. Installing solid fences to block the animalís vision of distractions outside the facility often improves animal movement (Grandin, 1996). The materials must be stiff and not flap. Flapping materials will scare the animals.
- Driving livestock directly into either the rising or setting sun is difficult because the animals are blinded. The best way to fix this problem is to change the time of day that the livestock are handled. When new facilities are built, avoid pointing races or truck loading ramps towards the sun.
- Animals may refuse to enter a dark building where a race is located (Fig. 5.8). They will enter more easily if they can see daylight through the other side of the building (Fig. 5.9). Removing a side wall may help. In new facilities, installing white translucent skylights to admit lots of shadow-free daylight will usually improve animal movement. Cattle and pigs have a natural tendency to move from a dark place to a brighter place unless they are approaching a blinding run (van Putten and Elshof, 1978; Grandin, 1982, 2007; Tanida et a!., 1996). At night, a lamp can be used to attract animals into buildings or trucks. The light MUST NOT shine directly in their eyes. It should provide even, bright, indirect light.
- Remove paper cups, old feed bags, plastic bags or other rubbish that is lying on the ground because animals may refuse to walk over them.
- Reflections in a puddle of water in a corral or race can stop animal movements. Either fill in the puddles with dirt or change the time of day that the animals are handled. In indoor facilities, changing the position of lamps will often eliminate a reflection. One person should get down in the race to see an animalís eye view while the other changes the position of lamps.
- Abrupt changes in flooring will also stop animal movement. Examples are moving from a dirt floor to a concrete floor or walking up a wooden loading ramp into a vehicle with a metal floor. Spreading some dirt, hay or other material ott the junction between the two flooring types will remove the contrast. Often a very small amount will work. In indoor facilities, a drain grating or metal drain cover may stop animal movement. When facilities are being designed, drains should be outside the areas where animals will walk. Even animals that are completely tame and trained to lead can panic and become agitated if they are forced to approach a strange thing. This is especially a problem if it is something they have never seen before. Horses may fear llama, and pigs are scared of bison.
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