Stress And Beef Cattle

       You’re Stressing Me Out! Keep Your Beef Cattle Calm

     Just like humans, beef cattle can have negative emotional reactions to a host of things they encounter and activities they undertake or must be put through on a daily basis.

     If your cattle respond negatively emotionally to a person or event, it will increase the likely hood of a host of negative effects on the cow itself and, in turn, the success of your operation.

     Making your cattle accustomed to the environment and, especially, the people on your ranch is an important step that must be undertaken early and thought of often when raising a herd or a few head.

First Impressions
    
An animal’s first impression with people, places and things can be the key to keeping your cattle stress free and healthy. You need take whatever steps necessary to make sure their first encounter with their environment and people are as pleasant as possible. Take extra care to ensure their first experience is the best, from even the smallest step in their day to day life. The cow needs to become comfortable with everything—from the people, the pen, the gates, the fences, the sights, the sounds, the corrals and the grazing areas.

     This is especially important with new calves. Make sure a calf’s experiences in the first few days of its lifetime are as stress free as possible. This will not only make the calf easier to manage, but can help to ease his inherited temperament and have positive effects on the herd over time.

SHHHH….
    
Lab studies have shown that cattle that become agitated and excited in the squeeze chute have significantly lower weight gains, tougher meat, and more borderline dark cutters. Agitation and excitement in the squeeze chute are influenced by both genetic factors and the animal's previous handling experiences. Quiet handling is one easy way to avoid stressing the cattle, and this can be employed in almost every step of the processes. Make sure noise is kept to a minimum, any approaches are made slowly and calmly. Avoid restraint and other physical contact as much as possible.

You’re Freaking Me Out, Man!
    
Again, just like humans, if a cow’s first experience with someone or something causes fear, they are more than likely to not only become agitated, but try and avoid the situation at all costs the next time it occurs. There are tremendous detrimental effects of handling stressors on animal performance and health associated with fear, and this directly affects your productivity. Be calm, cool and collected when handling your animals at any stage, even when performing the simplest of tasks.

     Cattle accustomed to people—on foot and on horseback—will produce calmer and easier to handle cattle at the slaughter plant.

Temperament
    
An animal's temperament is one determinant of how it will react during handling, and this is determined by an interaction between genetic and environmental factors. In cattle, temperament is highly influenced by genetics, so make sure you get a history of temperament and make close observations of temperament when selecting cattle to purchase, bulls to breed, or replacements.

     Cows may feel comfortable at home, but act excited and stubborn at new locations, such as noisy auctions and other unfamiliar places.

New Places and Faces
    
New environments and people are a big factor in cattle stress levels. Sudden movements, new and sudden changes or additions to the environment are all factors that can scare or stress the herd or cattle. Previous studies have found that cattle will approach and even touch an object on the ground voluntarily, but they will resist if someone attempts to drive them to it.

The Beef Cattle Chain 

 

 Red Beef Cattle Barn