Stepping into the cattle pen, humans naturally act as the predator. To improve animal handling, one consultant suggests switching to the role of leader.
“Because a true communicator would actually lead that animal where you want them to go. A poor communicator would put the prey out in front and just drive them to somewhere where they have no idea where they're going. I wish people could sometimes lose their voice and have to learn directly how to communicate via body language, with their eyes, and their position and their posture. It would make more sense. I think you'd have a better understanding how to communicate with an animal if you could do that,” says Kip Lukasiewicz, production animal consultant.
The shoulder, rib and hip are his steering wheel. Pressure points get the animal to move with you.
“So, whether it's a horse, or a cow, or sheep, or whatever, how you apply pressure to those areas will herd or steer that animal, direct that animal where you want them to go. But you have to have the eye first. I think explaining to people that sometimes more people is not more fast, that a cow can focus on one or two people at a time. And a good example would be the ranch over by Burwell. We'll sort about 350 pair in about 30 to 40 minutes, and it will be very quiet,” he says.
Good health and long-term cattle performance, isn’t something that comes from a syringe.
“From sorting pairs, to moving pairs from pasture to pasture, and we start weaning the day the calf is born, in terms of how we handle and interact with the animal. We should know through experience how long it's going to take us approximately per head, and we can adjust our time accordingly. If for whatever reason Mother Nature says it's getting extremely hot out and we have to stop early, then we stop early. It's not the end of the world. You're putting money into those cattle, you're investing into those cattle, so don't blow it. Make sure it's right,” Lukasiewicz says.
Practice and discipline make perfect. Working with livestock means studying their normal tendencies and learning how to manipulate with as little stress as possible.
“Because I tell people today, you should never be afraid to be videoed, because all professional athletes watch film on themselves, and I consider myself a professional athlete at the end of the day,” he says.