Less stress means more performance from animals

Physical, physiological and mental stress impairs animals welfare and their performance. 

When animals are stressed they reproduce at lower rates, grow slower and get sick more often. Human-animal interactions can be a source of mental stress. 

Improving stockhandling skills can be achieved by training people to understand the psychology of livestock.

Bruce Maynard

Burdekin graziers got this opportunity, attending a stress-free stockmanship workshop with animal behaviour expert Bruce Maynard recently.

The three-day workshop at Gainsford Station, had a strong emphasis on integrating livestock behavioural science in practical ways in the yard and the paddock. 

The course integrated theories, principles and practical exercises to master stress-free handling techniques. 

Bruce demonstrated how important it was to learn how a handler’s position determined which way the animals moved off. The correct way to move animals is to enter their ‘pressure zones where they can see you, and to release pressure by moving away or backing out of their zones.

Keep looking at how the animal is reacting. This means you can adjust your position and distance relative to the animals and get them moving ‘stress free’. 

Topics covered also included how: 

  • to eliminate stress factors to maximise production and reproduction;
  • to handle ‘rogue’ animals;
  • to Get yard work done with less staff; and 
  • well designed yards combined with a sound understanding of animal behaviour enables an easier and safer experience for animals and handlers.

NQ Dry Tropics supported the event through the Herding Change Through Grassroots Recovery project funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Easy does it… Bruce Maynard puts the theory into practice.

Even at smoko, “low stress” was the topic of conversation.