At a seminar, I discussed Low Stress Stockmanship and cattle handling techniques with a group of cattle farmers.

This discussion was also helpful in reminding even the most experienced stockmen of the techniques they should use when handling their livestock.


A good livestock handler understands the two major key principles of the animal: the flight zone (the “bubble” around an animal, that if invaded by a handler, causes the animal to move away) and the point of balance (the point, usually around the front shoulder, where pressure on that point causes the animal to stop or reverse, and vice versa).

If a stockman is on the edge of the flight zone and properly balanced, only minor movements are needed to control the animals in a low-stress manner.



It is a common misconception that “low stress” means “no pressure”.

All animals (including cattle) respond to appropriate application and release of pressure.


It is a balancing act between times when a lot of pressure must be applied (to make animals move correctly) and times when dosed pressure must be removed (to make animals slow down or stop correctly).

When pressure is applied correctly, it causes absolutely no long-term and/or harmful stress to the animal.

On the contrary, animals will learn that their handler is not a threat to them and that he/she is guiding them in a controlled and clear manner.

That's safe, efficient and animal-friendly handling of (in this case) cattle.

Simple: Low Stress Stockmanship.

Source text Ronald Rongen, photos: Nicole Beuwer-Roeven