1. Driving cattle into the raceway
-Calmly drive the cattle from the lairage to the raceway. Make use of the cattle’s natural behavior and stand on the left behind side.
This way the cattle can see you with their left eye (the right brain is connected to the left eye with which they make a risk assessment).
-Cattle walk slower than us humans do. Do not chase them up. This will induce stress and will make them walk the opposite direction.
-If needed use a tool like a flag or a plastic paddle. Don’t use these to hit or poke the animals. Usually the use of your body and position should be enough to drive the cattle into the raceway.
-When animals are hesitant, observe their behavior and assess the raceway. Eliminate any stress factors. Usually animals are hesitant when they are fearful of something ahead.
- Screaming and shouting has the opposite effect. Remaining calm will prevent the animals from balking or turning around and will make the drive into the raceway easier.
- Temple Grandin recommends the use of a circle crowd pen, allowing the cattle to be driven one after the other. Drive them in small groups only and ensure the pen is not too crowded (the pen should only be half full or less). Too many animals will induce congestion and stress. Take note of the design there should never be a bend at the entrance of the raceway as this will block the cattle’s view (they should be able to see three cows ahead).
-Don’t force a hesitant animal. This will cause a lot of stress. If possible let the animal be for the moment and have another try later on.
-Ensure that there is a constant flow and that the raceway isn’t too short. There should always be enough room for the animals to stand in the raceway before entering the stun box. In the meantime new animals can be gathered. This will reduce workload on the employees and they will experience less stress and frustration. Which in its turn will be beneficial for the animals wellbeing.
-If it’s not possible for the animal to enter the raceway or proceed through the raceway (e.g. injury) immediately stun the animal on the spot and make a deep and transverse cut across the animal’s throat, severing the blood vessels, trachea and esophagus. Never force an injured or downer animal to walk through a raceway.
2. Wide bended raceways
Motion can be encouraged by ensuring the raceway has one or more wide bends. Cattle like to walk towards the way they came from and wide bends will create this illusion. Sharp corners/bends will create the illusion that the passageway is a dead-end which will discourage the cattle from staying in motion and cause confusion and fear. Besides, cattle aren’t physically built to be able to turn around sharp corners.
3.Width of the raceway
If the raceway is too wide, cattle will try to pass each other. This will cause congestion and stress as they will get stuck. Therefore use a passageway which could be adjusted in width by placement of a metal bar. The metal bar could be folded up when needed.
4. Drive cattle in small groups
Drive cattle in small groups through the raceway. They will have more room which will reduce collisions and congestion. Stuffing the raceway with cattle will lead to some slipping and others jumping, and spread fear and chaos throughout the group.
5. Anti-mounting fencing
By placing metal bars above the raceways one can prevent the cattle from jumping on each other.
6. Proper lighting
Ensure proper lighting is installed above the raceway. Areas shouldn’t be too dark. Cattle prefer to walk from dark areas to light areas. Avoid any light hitting the cattle directly in their eyes as this will blind them and make them balk.
7. Distractions in raceways
- Ensure there is little to no distractions in the raceways. Strange objects and moving people can cause stress and congestion. Same goes for blood on the floor and floor drains. New smells and contrast in colours and textures make them balk
-To minimize distractions, ensure that the outer wall of the raceway is solid and of an adequate height, so the cattle won’t be able to look over the wall. The inner wall should be lower than the outer wall so that staff will still be able to control the drive.
-Unity is key. Make the walls of the raceeways from the same materials and apply the same colors. Avoid all contrasts in colour, texture, noise, smell etc..
The flooring of the raceways should be made of anti-slip materials, so animals won’t slip and fall.
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