Recently I reviewed an article by Dr. Stephen Hammack, Professor & Extension Beef Cattle Specialist Emeritus, regarding cattle handling that highlighted some important points.  Safe and effective cattle handling has always been important; however, recently there has been a move to a system called low-stress handling.

Ever wonder why there is so much whooping and hollering when working cattle? There may be several reasons, but handling cattle effectively is not one of them. Cattle can be best handled with low-stress techniques relying on minimal use of strategically-applied pressure according to Dr. Hammack.  This method is based on the following principles:

  • Cattle want to see you.  Cattle can see everywhere but directly behind them or a small blind spot in front of them, so movement toward the blind spot behind them will cause cattle to turn their head to keep you in their line of sight.
  • Cattle want to go around you, so position yourself so that when they do go around you they are moving in the direction you had in mind for them.
  • Cattle want to be with and will go to other cattle.  You have heard the old saying, “safety in numbers,” and cattle know this, thus the herding instinct, so if you start the cattle in front of the herd, the rest will follow.
  • Cattle can think of only one thing at a time.  Yes, they have a one track mind, so if cattle are thinking about anything other than what you are asking them to do you will need to change their minds before putting pressure on them.