5 STEPS TO ANIMAL SAFETY
Always read your crowd.
Before you step into a bar, party or even your own home, you likely take a minute to read the room. You observe body language, aroma and whether or not there is tension in the air. If you get home from work and your partner has their hands full and their eyebrows are furrowed, it may not be the best to time test that fight or flight response and ask, “When is dinner ready?”
This is why it’s essential to read your room. This principle applies to your livestock too. Livestock flight zone is not just contained within the yard that holds them, your approach to the yards can start to have an effect well and truly before you reach the fence. You will notice this as animals start to raise their heads, swish their tails and start to move or ring.
If you approach animals in a straight line to the yards, they can’t easily judge your distance. A mob can become startled if you suddenly open a gate as you will look closer to them than expected. An angled approach or walking in a zigzag can help the animals judge where you are and can start to reduce their flight zone. This zigzag approach may take some time initially, but will save time in the long run and make working the animals in the yards becomes safer.
Wear the right protection.
You wouldn’t drive a race car without a seatbelt. You may feel it’s fine not to when things are smooth and easy, but let’s agree a seatbelt could save your life or prevent injury. It’s the same with livestock. When things are easy, we become a little complacent. However, animals make up their own mind. If you have to suddenly run and escape, running in thongs is not an easy task.
As mob animals are bigger, stronger and not forgiving, be sensible and make sure you are protected.
We all know how important it is to ensure you, your workers and most often your family members are safe. While most mothers seem to have eyes in the back of their heads that’s not the case for the rest of us. Unlike the animals you’re working, they can see everywhere around them and they know where you are at all times. Your yard design and the numbers of stock in the yards will determine how many people are required for each operation and how many stock you can handle.
Having stock free areas and making sure all your fences are secure/ high enough and all gates swing to secure catch is a good start to staying safe.
The key is to keep your wits about you and your spatial awareness. Consider the impact your presence has on the animals and where your escape route is when things don’t go to plan. It is these things that Clipex keeps in mind when designing yards and our animal handling equipment.
Check your environment.
Have you ever heard of the term “shop blind”? This happens when an employee in retail becomes so used to their cluttered shop, they become blind to how it would appear to a customer. This easily happens outside of retail and on the land. We become “blind” to hazards in our environment.
Take a few minutes and evaluate external factors such as overhead electrical, weather changes, extra debris or uneven ground. When looking at this, it is important we are not just checking for our safety, but the safety of the animals. After all, they are our livelihood. It’s very easy to become used to your conditions, but we have to be extra aware of our environment with stock. It might be their first time and even slight changes from that environment before can seem very different the second time around.
Being in touch and identifying the lead animals in the mob, making them comfortable and giving them time to check the environment will ultimately determine how the rest of the mob will do.
Remove unnecessary noise to keep animals calm and reduce stress.
All animals have a strong sense of hearing. They can quickly become disturbed with unexpected noises and loud environments. When it comes to the fight or flight response, animals will always go straight to flight; but when contained in yards this can change just as quickly to fight. This can be very dangerous if you’re working closely with them, so make sure everything is always as quiet as possible.
There has been a lot of research into animals and their tolerance to noise and stress and the performance impact this can have. It has been found that animals can handle the extra pressure with minimal performance impact when they realise it is over a short time and they will be released. If unnecessary noise is added to this process, it can cause a drop in production for more than 24-48 hours after they have left this environment. Although an animal is quiet, it does not mean it can handle this better than most, poddies cut dark.
One of the most popular benefits of Clipex® Cattle Crushes and Clipex® Yard Sets are the anti-rattle latches, rubber floors, nylon bushes in hinges and low-pressure air-operating features – all are designed to minimise noise.
If you would like to learn more tips on animal handling or more about our animal handling range, please contact us today. We are more than happy to help you and find a solution that best suits your needs.