Photo courtesy of Oklahoma State University Application of most economically important management practices to commercial cowcalf operations require up close interaction with the cattle. Several of these jobs are carried out during the upcoming months.
Before working both cows and calves, it is a “good thing” to “go over” the handling facilities to check for potential safety problems as well as reviewing the practices to be carried out. Handling facilities that are not in a good state of repair can create safety problems for both the cattle and producer.
Producers that are more likely to be injured are those that have been in the cattle business for several years and become careless and increase the possibility of becoming injured.
Following are some suggestions that should contribute to safe and more pleasant working conditions. Most cattle producers already are aware of these but, it will be good to review.
- Don’t try to over power and “man handle” the animals. In most instances, the animals will outweigh and will be more powerful than the handler.
- Become familiar with and observe the cattle’s characteristics over time and how they might react during the working process.
- During the gathering and working process, cattle become stressed due to the change in environment. Some producers feed their cattle prior to working and move them into pens or holding areas to familiarize them with the environment.
- Cattle can move quicker than most producers and as a consequence can injure both the handler and themselves. Be calm and work cattle at a comfortable rate for both cattle and handler. It is not a “timed event,”
- Know the signs of stress and agitation in cattle. These include, bellowing, pawing, charging with their head down and attempting to flee.
- Cows with young calves are protective, more defensive and more difficult to manage. This is where lots of producers get injured. Allow dam and calf to stay together as much as possible.
- If extra labor is needed, be sure to secure those that are experienced. Do not assign jobs to the inexperienced hands where they might get injured. Inexperienced workers can become a hazard and get injured or injure the cattle.
- Plan ahead for an escape and hope it is not needed.
- Use common sense in working cattle.
- Keep the dog away from the cattle. A dog is not a ‘symbol” of a cowboy. Cattle will conclude that a dog is a predator and will become aggressive toward it and increase the possibility of injury.