Tips for safe cattle handling with New Zealand’s leading Rural Consultants for AgSafe New Zealand Ltd.

By James Findlay / a couple of years ago

Handling cattle the right way makes them calmer and safer says New Zealand’s leading farm consultants, AgSafe NZ.

Every year, on New Zealand Farms many people are hurt by cattle, mostly when cattle kick or crush them. Additionally, according to WorkSafe, some suffer serious injuries, like broken bones, and people have been killed.

Cattle have minds of their own, have a massive weight advantage and can move unexpectedly quick, especially if they are agitated. It takes competence and training to handle them safely and without risk.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when handling cattle is to keep them calm. Alarmed and over-excited cattle are a danger to health and safety. “Give them time and space to calm down, especially when they’ve just been moved into the yards,” comments Jim.

It is also extremely helpful to be able to recognise the danger signs in agitated cattle. Unsettled cattle often bellow noisily and paw the ground with their hooves.

Any farmer that has worked with cattle knows that they have surprisingly good memories. They learn quickly and will soon work out who frightens them and who treats them good.

“Cattle are prone to getting stressed around times of castration, weaning and the first milking. If you treat them gently during those times, it’ll pay off in the future,” adds Jim.

Cattle have two balance lines. One that goes across the shoulders and the other runs along the backbone. When you’re working up close with cattle, whichever way you move through those lines, the animal will move the opposite way.

  • If you’re alongside the animal and move forward, it will move backward.
  • If you go back, it will go forward.
  • If you’re in front and move to the left, it will move to your right.

Your voice is a valuable cattle handling tool. Not only can you use your voice to calm and soothe, but you can also use your voice to let the cattle know where you are.

“Cattle aren’t capable of seeing the way we can. If they perceive movement to the side or the rear, they will get spooked. But if they can hear you, they can know where you are and are more likely to be calmer,” advises Jim. 

Carry a length of pipe or a long stick with a piece of cloth on the end to make a flag (a waddy) to make yourself look bigger and give you confidence when handling difficult animals.

If you stand facing the cow with your waddy outstretched, you are putting yourself in a domineering and positive position. If you want to take the heat out of the situation by lowering the waddy and turning side-on.

Contact AgSafe NZ Ltd:

Phone: 027-2872886







Contact MediaPA:

Phone: 0274 587 724





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James Findlay

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