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August 16, 2021 Health & Production

What We’re Reading | Practical tips to reducing stress when handling cattle

From the Beef Cattle Research Council

Many farmers truly enjoy working cattle but for some producers (and perhaps their family members) sorting and processing cattle may not bring out the best in everyone. The good news is reducing stress is entirely possible. In many cases, inexpensive changes or tweaks can benefit herd – and family – dynamics.

Joseph Stookey, PhD, Professor Emeritus with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, dedicated his career to studying animal behaviour and has a special interest in looking at ways to reduce stress during cattle handling. “We all work cattle and can get them from Point A to Point B but do you do it as good as you can?” Stookey asks. “If you want to get better at handling cattle, you can do that,” he says. “Find someone who is better than you and watch and learn from them,” Stookey adds.

The benefits of minimizing stress for beef cattle are wide ranging. When cattle are upset, you don’t necessarily see what’s going on inside, Stookey says, but fear is a big trigger for cortisol releases which can potentially lower conception rates. He adds that producers put a lot of effort into many areas of production, but when rough handling occurs or farmers miss an opportunity to minimize fear in their cattle, that work can be negated.

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‘What We’re Reading’ is a quick look at some of the issues and insights Alberta Beef Producers’ content creators and editors are reading to stay up-to-date, to broaden perspectives, and to explore issues relevant to the agriculture industry.

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