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Agricultural News

Mark Johnson on Facilities and Avoiding Injury When Working Cattle

Tue, 24 May 2022 09:25:42 CDT

Mark Johnson on Facilities and Avoiding Injury When Working Cattle Mark Johnson, Oklahoma State University Extension Beef Cattle Breeding Specialist, offers herd health advice as part of the weekly series known as the "Cow Calf Corner" published electronically by Dr. Peel, Mark Johnson, and Paul Beck. today Johnson is talking about Facilities and Avoiding Injury When Working Cattle

Objectives of good cattle working facilities include reducing stress on the animals, increasing the efficiency of our labor, and the safety of both cattle and humans alike. Proper facility design and good stockmanship skills are critically important to handling cattle as safely and efficiently as possible. A good working facility, understanding animal behavior and good animal husbandry skills all work in synergy with regard the safe handling of cattle. A good cattle working facility is typically designed as a result of considering:
- animal behavior
- site selection
- lighting
- drainage
- surface (dirt, rock, concrete)
- number of animals to be worked
- size of animals to be worked
- frequency of use

Effective stockmanship is typically the result of considering the following with respect to animal behavior:
- cattle want to see you
- cattle do not like to be alone, they will go to other cattle
- cattle typically have one thought at a time, they are motivated by fear and have a "fight or flight" mentality
- cattle want to remove pressure
- cattle have a flight zone
- cattle have a point of balance

The Human Element
For those of us who work in production agriculture, physical risks are inherent on a daily basis. Agricultural occupations are consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous. An OSU study done by researchers in the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering showed that over 50% of injuries sustained while working cattle were the result of human error. Equipment and facilities were perceived as the cause about 25% of the time. In most cases, a better understanding of how an animal may respond to human interaction and its immediate surroundings will help keep someone from becoming an injury victim. Human errors in judgement are due to a variety of reasons, but occur most often when people are tired, hurried, upset, preoccupied or careless. Remember, the human factor greatly influences the occurrence of life-threatening accidents. Using this information in combination with good facilities and proper cattle handling techniques will reduce the risk of injury.

Chapter 40 of the eighth edition of the OSU Beef Manual is an excellent source of information for producers interested in more information on cattle handling facilities.



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