Cattle Handling Equipment
Even the best ranchers might find cattle rearing and herding challenging. From a distance, cattle usually look very calm, docile, and obedient. But when it comes to handling them, the animals are often completely the opposite. Even though producers benefit from raising cattle in many ways, they need to know proper techniques in handling the animals. Cattle are often very stubborn but also easily scared, which makes them difficult to control. If you are ranching for profit, you might want to look into some handling equipment that can make the job of moving your cattle much easier.
Features and Benefits of Cattle Prods
To move dairy cattle more efficiently, a rancher might choose to strike or poke the animals with a handheld cattle prod. An older version of a cattle prod would be a long stick made of metal or fiberglass with which a handler would physically help cattle move faster. But now, a more common version among ranchers is an electrified device. When pressed to the body of the cow, cattle prod sends a small but painful electric shock, which makes the animal turn away from the source of their pain and move in the other direction.
Regular prods are less effective than electric ones because they might not work so well on stubborn cattle. That is why electric cattle prods are the primary choice of handling equipment for moving cattle. The electrical shock sent by the prod is painful to the animals. But it is not strong enough to result in physical damage with proper use. Pain from the prod stimulates the cows to move and directs them where the rancher intends for the animals to go.
Electric cattle rods come in various designs and shapes. But they are always made in such a way that they are easy to handle and use. Cattle prods might be as short as about six inches or as long as six feet in length. If the animals are too stubborn or too aggressive, an electric prod could help calm them down. Same if they see or hear something that makes them scared. Ideally, you would not have to cause pain to the animals. But in some situations, it might be your best option for moving them where you want them to be.
Using Flags for Handling Cattle
If you do not want to cause pain to the animals, using flags for handling cattle is a less risky method. Colorful flags act as visual barriers and help ranchers direct the animals in and out of trucks, barns, and alleyways. Apart from that, most of the cattle sorting flags are made of soft fabric. That is why they are helpful for calming down the animals. You can easily make cows turn with the use of a colorful flag attached to the end of a flexible stick.
Handling with Rattle Paddles
Sorting poles and rattle paddles are useful handling tools for you to sort the animals. As you herd the cattle, you might need to sort them for some reason. For example, if you need to separate calves from cows or heifers from steers. The same strategies that you applied to herding the animals can also help in sorting them. That is where sorting poles and rattle paddles will be useful.
Rattle paddles are sticks with a paddle on one end. They are usually very colorful, which is why the animals pay attention to them. So it is easier to have control over their direction. Sorting poles serve the same purpose, but they do not have a paddle on the end of the stick. For gentle cattle, even small movements with a paddle or pole will be enough to move them. But things might be more difficult when it comes to moving more aggressive cattle.
Alternative to Handling Tools
Aside from using various tools, you can also find tips for more effective and efficient handling of cattle. Sometimes you will not even need the tools, especially when dealing with more docile dehorned or castrated animals. But you need to apply some techniques to herd and sort cattle. For example, start by reducing noises and shadows on their path. This way, animals will know where they are going and will not have fear. Which will make it easier for you to move them. When you are working the cattle, keep in mind that the animals will not follow your commands if you are in their blind spot. For cattle, it is directly behind them.
Do not pack the animals too tightly, so there is less pressure on them. Be patient, even when you find it very hard to move cattle. You can talk to cows in a soothing voice, gently rub them or stroke them. This way, they will feel less scared. And if your efforts are not very effective and the herd stops, there is no point for you to encourage the rear cows to move. Go to the front of the herd and move dominant animals first. Apart from these tips, there are many proven methods and techniques which would help you move the cattle without using specific tools.
Saving Time and Energy
No matter if you have a small or a large ranch, making sure it operates at full capacity is not an easy job. But having correct equipment and tools for handling cattle makes your work easier every day. As a result, you have more time to focus on the most important task at hand. And that is caring for your animals. Handling tools such as prods, flags, or paddles are usually made from high-quality materials. Thus, they will last you for a long time. Being able to handle cattle efficiently saves you a lot of time, energy, and money. Besides, there are many options available, so every rancher can find something that works best for his or her operation.