1. Load cattle in groups
Cattle are social animals and experience stress when separated, therefore it’s best to keep them in small groups of two or three.
Loading small groups is usually the quickest way and induces the least amount of stress with the animals being more calm and easier to round up.
2. Ensure loading ramps and sidewalls are at an adequate height and are solid
This prevents cattle from falling of the tailgate, getting distracted by environmental factors (making them balk) or possibly getting stuck.
3. Reduce sound
Cattle are very sensitive for sudden sounds, therefore it’s best to reduce noise during loading and unloading as this will reduce the amount of stress the cattle experience. Sounds can easily be reduced by using rubber or sound reducing materials. E.g. these materials can be attached to the bottom and sides of the tailgate. This will reduce the sound when opening and closing the tailgate.
To avoid metal on metal contact during unloading, mount a rubber panel or other sound reducing material on the inside of the tailgate.
This reduces the amount of noise, which will make the cattle less hesitant and scared to go down the ramp. Attaching a rope to the side walls of the trucks’ tailgate so that the truck driver can gently lower it down rather than letting it fall and cause a bang.
4. Avoid steep slopes
Cattle are frightened of steep slopes and have difficulty moving up and down them. Where possible have the tailgate as level as possible. Best practice would be to have the tailgate on the same level as the loading area. This will make it easier for the cattle to walk in and out of the truck and will decrease the risk of cattle falling and decreases congestion.
5. Install proper lighting
Cattle tend to gravitate to proper lighted areas but ensure the light does not directly hit their eyes as this will scare them away. Cattle move towards lit areas, and are afraid of moving towards dark areas where they have trouble seeing what is ahead.
6. Anti-slip flooring
To avoid cattle from slipping and injuring themselves ensure the loading ramp is covered with anti-slip materials. Use steps on slight slopes and use the bedding on hand (e.g. straw) to cover the ramp.
7. Be patient during loading and unloading
- With the use of your body position you can get the cattle in motion. Using tools shouldn’t be necessary. Be smart and make use of the cattle’s natural behavior. By being aware of the flight zone and using it to your advantage, you can make the cattle calmly move away from you.
- Do not chase the cattle. They walk slower than us humans do.
- With cattle the left eye is connected to the right brain with which they make a risk assessment. Always stand behind the cattle on the left-hand side so they can see you with their left eye.
- Patience is a virtue. By being patient, you will be able to load the cattle effectively. Chasing the cattle will induce stress and will make them walk in the opposite direction.
- What doesn’t work is: shouting, whistling and clapping your hands, making fast movements (waiving your arms), hitting pushing and pulling or standing in their pathway.
8. Immediately euthanize sick or crippled animals
Upon arrival immediately euthanize crippled or sick animals. Do this while they are still in the truck and do not force them to stand or use electric prods.
Permission and approval of Eyes on Animals