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WSU Extension offers cattle handling video

Matthew Weaver

Capital Press

Washington State University Extension is providing ranchers with a video of low-stress cattle handling workshops. Extension regional specialist Sarah Smith says reduced stress helps animal and rancher alike, and further workshops are in the works.

Washington State University Extension is supplementing its low-stress cattle handling workshops with a new video for ranchers.

The video recaps training seminars held in 2012 and 2013 led by Tom Noffsinger, a cattle handling expert and veterinarian in Benkelman, Neb.

The 25-minute video is not meant to replace Noffsinger’s six- to eight-hour seminar, said Sarah Smith, extension regional specialist in animal sciences for WSU Grant/Adams County Extension.

“It will help as a refresher, and also as a tool to serve other family members and employees receive some of the training if they weren’t able to (attend) those seminars,” she said.

The video covers some basics, but the seminars cover material more in-depth, Smith said.

Ways to reduce stress include understanding cattle behavior and facility design.

“You want cattle to move to pressure so they respond in the way you’re asking them to, but you also want to relieve pressure when they’re doing the right thing so you don’t keep up a flight zone or have animals that are stressed,” Smith said.

The handler should move so the animals respond the way he wants, she said.

The concept of low-stress handling serves both the rancher and the animal, she said. Surveys from seminar attendees report less stress when working cattle, so morale is improved and the work is more enjoyable, Smith said.

“Cattle that aren’t gaining or are injured don’t bring in profit and actually cost the operation money,” she said. “From the human standpoint, our people are critical to making sure these animals make it to their optimum point. If we have employees that have high morale, they will handle the cattle better and they will be watching for little things, such as health issues or facility breakdowns that will be identified (before) becoming a bigger problem.”

The video is available online for free. A high-definition video is available for purchase, to cover the costs of duplication, shipping and handling.

Smith hopes to schedule more workshops in 2014 and offer more videos, expanding to cover horsemanship with cattle and implementing practices on a farm under various facilities.



Contact Sarah Smith at smithsm@wsu.edu


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