A series of livestock transport workshops were held at the Frasers facility in Goondiwindi recently and drew a number of personnel who work with animals in the supply chain to learn from the experts about the efficient handling of stock.
The mentor brought in by the workshop was Tom Shephard, a well known stock handling expert, whose life’s work is in bringing improvements to the human being to livestock interface.
He also goes into the point of balance, which is somewhere just behind the animal’s shoulder. If a human being is at that point of balance, the cattle will remain calm and be easier to control. Move in front of the point and the cow will slow, go behind and it will speed up.
One of the most important aspects of this point is the distance away from the animal. Come too close and the cow will feel pressured, closer and it will want to run away, and closer still, it will turn and fight.
Getting into the subtleties of working with animals, Tom discusses how people can develop their relationship in a situation which can often be fraught for the animals. He recommends looking clearly at the eye and learning how to read the animals expected behaviour from that eye to eye contact.
Talking to the participants, many of whom have been work handling cattle for some time, they appear to be getting reassurance from the material they were being given. In some ways it showed them that what they have been doing, in the main, is right. It also gave them an explanation about how some of the things that they are doing actually work from the animal’s point of view.
The talk also showed them some of the mistakes they often make in a situation and explained to them, simply, how they can improve their performance, as well as how to get better behaviour, easier from the animals that they are handling on a day-to-day basis.
This masterclass in the moving of a mob of cattle from one yard to another, or onto a vehicle with minimal stress occurring for both the cattle and for the handlers ,seemed to give those taking part a much better understanding of why they do the things they do and what things they should avoid doing.
It is events like this one in Goondiwindi which will help in the cultural change which is needed throughout the livestock industry around the efficient handling of stock. The excuse that, “This is the way we always used to do it,” is no longer applicable. The knowledge is there to help improve welfare and the overall productivity of the livestock industry. More initiatives like this and more government funding, which helped set the workshop up, will not only improve welfare outcomes but also business outcomes for those involved in transporting cattle.