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Teaching the importance and methods of safe animal handling

By Miranda Burski, Communications Branch

July 2019

Animal handling on a cattle operation has the potential to lead to injury or stress, to either the handler or the animal. With the proper skills, however, both are avoidable.

While farm safety is being discussed more often, there are still high rates of injury and stress in the agricultural community.

"Farm injuries are often avoidable and happen much too often," said Ryder Lee, Chief Executive Officer of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen's Association (SCA). The SCA wants to reduce farm injuries by ensuring producers across the province have the skills they need to make cattle handling as safe as possible.

"While all producers handle cattle regularly year after year, we still see people getting hurt," said Lee. "If we can reduce these incidents, it helps."

In an effort to help producers learn safer animal handling skills, the SCA, in partnership with the Beaver River Agri-Environmental Group Plan, hosted a one-day safe animal handling seminar in Makwa in January. The seminar, led by cattle-handling expert Dylan Biggs, focused on low-stress handling techniques, which benefit both producers and animals.

A particularly important lesson was how to move cattle from one area to another in as stress-free a manner as possible. This involved teaching attendees to get cattle to move voluntarily, rather than using force which could result in damages to facilities or an injury to either the handler or one of the animals.

Participants in the event also learned about other benefits of stress-free handling, including improved gains and herd management.

"Good handling makes working with cattle a smoother affair, often requiring less people," said Lee. "It's a challenge to attract people to operations in a lot of rural areas. Some of these skills added in these workshops allow people to work cattle with fewer people."

Overall, producers considered what they learned to be of benefit, enough so that some requested a second, two-day event. While a second event has not been planned, Lee said SCA would consider one. In the meantime, he encouraged producers to continue to learn from each other.

"As with anything, there is always something to learn from others doing something successfully. Having an open mind to learning is the best way to do things better. "Stay safe out there," he added. "Please listen to that voice in your head when it says, "Maybe this isn't a good idea," and find another way or some help."

SCA received funding for the safe animal handling seminar through the Farm Safety Program, funded under the five-year $388 million Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) between the federal and provincial governments. The Farm Safety Program provides funding to organizations to promote the awareness of farm safety issues and to encourage the adoption of safe farm practices in Saskatchewan.

For more information, visit: www.saskatchewan.ca/CAP

Moving cattle from one area to another in ways that are calm and not forceful helps
prevent damages to facilities or injuries to handlers or animals.

***This article was published originally in the July 2019 edition of Agriview

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