“Calm down.”

That's the first suggestion Dr. Temple Grandin offers cattle owners working to improve low-stress handling methods. Dr. Grandin recently offered insight on animal behavior and facility design at the Wisconsin Dairy & Beef Industry Animal Husbandry Conference in Appleton, WI. Dr. Grandin says yelling and whistling, two traditional handling methods, are ineffective methods of handling cattle and the stress they induce can lead to significant reductions in productivity.

“Large animals can seriously injure handlers and/or themselves if they become excited or agitated,” Dr. Grandin says. “Reducing stress on animals has been demonstrated to improve productivity and physiological changes.”

Research has shown that the adverse effects of stress on animals induced by electric prods, restraint and other handling methods lowered conception rates, reduced immune function cattle and impaired rumen function. Because of their wide-angle vision, cattle are sensitive to elements of their environment that may escape the attention of handlers.

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