6. Best practice sheep handling


Music Hello, I’m Boyd Holden, a Livestock Handling Consultant and I’m here at Trangie Research Station to share with you the tools that we are going to use for livestock handling. We’re here creating a learning resource about handling sheep and cattle. Music Sheep are small, defenceless animals. Their domestication and survival has been dependent on man as their protector. Sheep are herding animals which means that they seek comfort and protection by being with each other and preferably in large numbers. Understanding their instinctive behaviour is an essential part of handling sheep. Because of their small size and vulnerability they have a greater tendency than cattle to want to be with and follow their own kind. So, when handling and moving sheep remember the simple fact that sheep like following other sheep. This underpins efficient and humane handling. Music Before you head off to get the livestock you must have a plan, have the yards and equipment prepared and communicate clearly with your fellow workers their roles and responsibilities. Remember, we are not chasing the sheep, we are communicating with them by applying pressure and releasing it and using their flight zone. Music It is our movement and position that stimulates individual and herd movement. Vision is the main sense which livestock use to communicate with each other and it is the one that we are using to move livestock. Always remember if they can see you, you can influence them. Music Okay, Hannah if you go around to your right and open the gate up please, just open the gates just like we’ve done every day. Music You right there Aaron? Music Just give me a little jump, don’t go forward to your right, just give me a jump. Music Just stay there Hannah, that’s good. Music Give me a jump Hannah. Bigger jump than that. Bigger jump Hannah. Music Just take them back to the gate so they can see where they came from. Music A good stock person knows how many sheep can comfortably fit in each yard force or race. This is important because it ensures efficient and safe handling and maximises animal welfare. To help you do this count the number of sheep as you move them from yard to yard, yard to force and force to race. Yep, that’s it, great, fantastic. Understanding how sheep respond to us helps us understand how to move them. By using the instinctive behaviour of sheep to curve around us and our parallel movement to speed up or to slow them down we can easily count sheep, move them from yard to yard and along the race. We can use aids like a livestock talker, a dog or by simply increasing our body movement to help us get the response we want. Music As you can see when we walk through the sheep quietly and calmly that they move away from us. This distance is referred to as a flight zone. You can clearly see that the flight zone around us is perfectly round. By increasing our movement we can increase the distance of the flight zone between us and the animals. The more movement, the bigger the distance. If we take the movement away, the distance will get smaller. The flight zone is always round and this helps us to understand that sheep move around us in a curve. Sheep should be returned to their paddocks in the same quiet, steady manner that they were moved from their paddock. Music It is a good idea moving stock to the same or different paddock to take them to water before you leave them. Before you leave them make sure that the livestock are calm and settled. This is very important. Music .

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