Compiled By                    Kindra Gordon
“The only way to work cattle quickly is slowly” - that’s one of the sage pieces of advice that Ron Gill offers when he talks to producers about cattle handling. Gill is an Extension livestock specialist with Texas A&M.
Gill says safe and effective cattle handling is becoming increasingly important with the emphasis on animal welfare by the public. But he says that’s not the only reason to abide by low-stress animal handling principles. 
He says, “I use animal handling as a means to animal welfare. When cattle are handled in a low stress manner it can mean increased gain without additional inputs, fewer sick animals, and ultimately more profit for producers.”
Here Gill shares 10 cattle handling pointers:
1. The only way to work cattle quickly is slowly. Gill explains that when we hurry, we put excessive pressure on cattle, which usually results in an unintended reaction from the cattle. If cattle handlers slow down, often the job will get done more efficiently.
2. Work from the front to draw cattle to you. Gill says that working from the front helps keep cattle from wanting to turn back in an effort to keep you in their line of sight. By moving in and out of the animal’s flight zone and point of balance, cattle can be easily drawn forward and past you to get them to go where you need them to go. Gill says, “Stay in front of cattle when possible. Otherwise it’s like driving from the backseat.”
3. Apply pressure when cattle have a place to go. Gill says, “Low stress livestock handling is not about handling cattle with no pressure. In fact the success of handling cattle correctly depends on knowing when and where to apply pressure and how much pressure to apply.” Gill says that the other key component to low stress handling is setting the cattle up to go where you want them to go before you apply pressure. He adds, “Just as important is to release the pressure as soon as the desired result is achieved.”
4. Pressure from the side. Gill says this relates to working from the front and down the side of an animal and not working from directly behind. “The side of an animal is anything from the tip of the nose to the pin bones,” he explains, and says, “Different animals respond differently to pressure and a good stockman must develop the ability to read livestock and anticipate the animal’s response before applying pressure.” The key, Gill explains, is the position of the handler and how pressure is applied and released to control cattle movement, their speed and their direction.
5. Cattle must be comfortable to go by you and stay straight. “If cattle are not comfortable going by you, they will not work for you very well,” Gill says. He adds, “Working from the front requires you to get the cattle to pass you without balking or spooking…This is why using the draw of other cattle makes it easier to work and sort cattle in an alley or from one corral to another.” Gill adds, “If an animal is abruptly stopped when it tries to pass the handler, they will be increasingly reluctant to come by the handler.” Gill explains this is why it is important to not stop forward motion abruptly, but rather, allow the animal time and room to turn back until it is time for you to release the pressure by stepping out and toward them and asking them to go by. Gill says, “This simple procedure of stopping and turning cattle away or back will make the difference in how cattle work throughout the day - and their life.”
6. Pressure cattle from behind only when absolutely necessary. Like any prey animal, cattle cannot see directly behind themselves. If you assume a position directly behind cattle - in their blind spot - they will turn to one side or the other to see you. To drive cattle in a straight line, assume a position behind their point of balance (shoulder) and off to either side.
7. When working cattle, move in triangles. Gill says moving in straight lines works best. Move into their flight zone to create or correct movement. Retreat from their flight zone to slow or stop movement.
8. Going with the flow of cattle slows them down or stops their movement. When you approach a position parallel to their point of balance, cattle will slow down, and as you pass the point of balance, they will stop and/or reverse direction.
9. Going against the flow of cattle initiates or accelerates their movement. This is the opposite of point 8. Walk from the front to the back of an animal, and as you pass their point of balance, they will likely step forward.
10. Cattle work best when they are ready - “And, it’s your job to get them ready,” says Gill. You have to teach, condition and prepare them…he uses the analogy of getting a kid ready to go to college, and says, “If you restrict them too much, they’ll go nuts.” As an example, Gill says, “Quality time spent with replacement heifers will pay dividends for years to come. He suggests, “Spend time with heifers (in both pasture and the pens) when you want to, not just when you have to. 
Gill concludes, “Don’t mistake motion for accomplishment - a lot of time we see action that is unnecessary and counterproductive. Take advantage of the natural tendencies of cattle…avoid as many distractions as possible.”
“The only way to work cattle quickly is slowly” - that’s one of the sage pieces of advice that Ron Gill offers when he talks to producers about cattle handling. Gill is an Extension livestock specialist with Texas A&M.
Gill says safe and effective cattle handling is becoming increasingly important with the emphasis on animal welfare by the public. But he says that’s not the only reason to abide by low-stress animal handling principles. 
He says, “I use animal handling as a means to animal welfare. When cattle are handled in a low stress manner it can mean increased gain without additional inputs, fewer sick animals, and ultimately more profit for producers.”
Here Gill shares 10 cattle handling pointers:
1. The only way to work cattle quickly is slowly. Gill explains that when we hurry, we put excessive pressure on cattle, which usually results in an unintended reaction from the cattle. If cattle handlers slow down, often the job will get done more efficiently.
2. Work from the front to draw cattle to you. Gill says that working from the front helps keep cattle from wanting to turn back in an effort to keep you in their line of sight. By moving in and out of the animal’s flight zone and point of balance, cattle can be easily drawn forward and past you to get them to go where you need them to go. Gill says, “Stay in front of cattle when possible. Otherwise it’s like driving from the backseat.”
3. Apply pressure when cattle have a place to go. Gill says, “Low stress livestock handling is not about handling cattle with no pressure. In fact the success of handling cattle correctly depends on knowing when and where to apply pressure and how much pressure to apply.” Gill says that the other key component to low stress handling is setting the cattle up to go where you want them to go before you apply pressure. He adds, “Just as important is to release the pressure as soon as the desired result is achieved.”
4. Pressure from the side. Gill says this relates to working from the front and down the side of an animal and not working from directly behind. “The side of an animal is anything from the tip of the nose to the pin bones,” he explains, and says, “Different animals respond differently to pressure and a good stockman must develop the ability to read livestock and anticipate the animal’s response before applying pressure.” The key, Gill explains, is the position of the handler and how pressure is applied and released to control cattle movement, their speed and their direction.
5. Cattle must be comfortable to go by you and stay straight. “If cattle are not comfortable going by you, they will not work for you very well,” Gill says. He adds, “Working from the front requires you to get the cattle to pass you without balking or spooking…This is why using the draw of other cattle makes it easier to work and sort cattle in an alley or from one corral to another.” Gill adds, “If an animal is abruptly stopped when it tries to pass the handler, they will be increasingly reluctant to come by the handler.” Gill explains this is why it is important to not stop forward motion abruptly, but rather, allow the animal time and room to turn back until it is time for you to release the pressure by stepping out and toward them and asking them to go by. Gill says, “This simple procedure of stopping and turning cattle away or back will make the difference in how cattle work throughout the day - and their life.”
6. Pressure cattle from behind only when absolutely necessary. Like any prey animal, cattle cannot see directly behind themselves. If you assume a position directly behind cattle - in their blind spot - they will turn to one side or the other to see you. To drive cattle in a straight line, assume a position behind their point of balance (shoulder) and off to either side.
7. When working cattle, move in triangles. Gill says moving in straight lines works best. Move into their flight zone to create or correct movement. Retreat from their flight zone to slow or stop movement.
8. Going with the flow of cattle slows them down or stops their movement. When you approach a position parallel to their point of balance, cattle will slow down, and as you pass the point of balance, they will stop and/or reverse direction.
9. Going against the flow of cattle initiates or accelerates their movement. This is the opposite of point 8. Walk from the front to the back of an animal, and as you pass their point of balance, they will likely step forward.
10. Cattle work best when they are ready - “And, it’s your job to get them ready,” says Gill. You have to teach, condition and prepare them…he uses the analogy of getting a kid ready to go to college, and says, “If you restrict them too much, they’ll go nuts.” As an example, Gill says, “Quality time spent with replacement heifers will pay dividends for years to come. He suggests, “Spend time with heifers (in both pasture and the pens) when you want to, not just when you have to. 
Gill concludes, “Don’t mistake motion for accomplishment - a lot of time we see action that is unnecessary and counterproductive. Take advantage of the natural tendencies of cattle…avoid as many distractions as possible.”