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How to Keep Cows Happy

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Corrals are used on livestock farms around the world to round up the animals when they need to be weighed or vaccinated. New research now shows that removing splashes of colors, shadows or water puddles from corrals, keeping noise levels down and not using dogs and electric prods can dramatically reduce the stress cattle experience. Maria Lúcia Pereira Lima of the Instituto de Zootecnia Sertãozinho in Brazil is the lead author of this study in Springer’s journal Tropical Animal Health and Production.

Corrals are used on livestock farms around the world to round up the animals when they need to be weighed or vaccinated. New research now shows that removing splashes of colors, shadows or water puddles from corrals, keeping noise levels down and not using dogs and electric prods can dramatically reduce the stress cattle experience. Maria Lúcia Pereira Lima of the Instituto de Zootecnia Sertãozinho in Brazil is the lead author of this study in Springer’s journal Tropical Animal Health and Production.

According to Lima, best practices are not standard in the construction of the traditional corrals used on Brazilian farms. Facilities are often inadequate, and farm workers know little about how to properly handle cattle. 

The study investigated how minor changes in a corral structure and better handling methods affect the behavior and stress levels of cattle, and was carried out on two extensive commercial cattle farms in Brazil using a type of humpbacked Zebu breed called Nellore. This type of cow is known to be more temperamental than other cattle breeds, and quite aggressive when raised in extensive farming systems. The corrals on the farms included wooden restraining devices and head stanchions and were surrounded by 1.8 meter high wood board fencing. Cows were restrained in a squeeze chute by head holders that exert light pressure on the neck of the animals.

Read more at Springer

Photo credit: Ernst Vikne via Wikimedia Commons