Few farmers would think of the possibility where their cattle and animals could hurt them or become a source of danger. Especially if you have been rearing animals for several years, it is difficult to think that way. No matter how well you think you know your livestock, there is always a possibility that they can behave violently and cause you injuries. From pigs to cattle, sheep, horses and dogs, farm animals can be unpredictable; you never know what might spook them and trigger them to react in an unnatural or harmful way. More often than not, farmers handling livestock are to be blamed for animal-related accidents. Lack of knowledge and experience and a lapse of judgment may cause farmers to take inappropriate measures – like pushing or lifting animals or throwing things at them to scare them into a calm position, which increases the risk of injury for both the farmer and the animal and transmission of certain diseases. That said, farmers must be aware of the condition and temperament of their livestock and treat them with caution at all times.
If you are into livestock farming or planning to start a livestock farm soon, we have put together some considerations and tips below that will help you manage your animals safely and improve their productivity.
HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR ANIMALS?
Any farmer who works with livestock should be aware that animals are creatures of habit and prefer to follow a routine. Each has its own personality and temperament. Most animals like being around other animals and may feel frightened and agitated if separated from the rest of the group. When moving large groups, they often follow a leader, which can be beneficial for the farmer. Farm animals’ senses differ a great deal from those of humans. Animals like swine, cattle and horses have close to 360 degree panoramic vision, which allows them to see in all directions without moving their head. So a quick movement behind them may easily spook these animals and cause chaos.
Animals also tend to have extremely sensitive hearing which enables them to detect sounds that human ears cannot hear. Having said that, loud noise can easily frighten animals; high frequency sounds might even hurt their ears according to research. These factors explain why it is important to be aware of their characteristics to work safely with animals. Considering livestock traits can help design safe and suitable facilities for them.
ASSESS RISKS ON LIVESTOCK FARM
Assessing potential animal handling risks can help spot problems on your livestock farm and prevent accidents and injuries. Here are some ways to assess potential risks:
- Walk through all areas and shelters where your animals are kept and look for things that can turn into hazards, such as broken posts, broken gate latches, or restraining equipment that is not working. Doing this manually can be exhausting and challenging and this is where smart farming technology comes in. By deploying wireless IoT tools and drones, farmers can constantly monitor the condition and health of their animals and ensure better safety and productivity.
- Analyse current data and animal health records and history to determine recurring dangers, illnesses and accidents on the farm.
- Train your family members and workers to handle animals properly while keeping them informed about potential safety issues and health risks with livestock.
- Make sure at least one worker on the farm is properly trained in livestock well-being and first aid.
CONSIDER HUMAN FACTORS IN ANIMAL HANDLING
Hands-on experience with livestock is critical for their safe and efficient handling. Farmers who have managed and reared livestock for years develop a practical understanding of animals and their habits. While different systems and methods may be applied to handle different types of livestock, there are some standard considerations and rules for working with any animal:
- Most animals will tend to respond to a routine; be calm and cautious with animals until they settle into that routine.
- Make your presence apparent well in advance of getting close to an animal to prevent frightening it.
- Avoid quick movements or loud noises when approaching animals as they have sensitive hearing. Move slowly and calmly around livestock.
- Always be patient with animals; never prod them when they have nowhere to go.
- Touch animals gently when feeding them rather than shoving or bumping them.
- Always ensure an escape route when working closely with animals in close quarters.
To Sum Up
Ensuring safety and well being of animals is imperative to successful farm operation. In addition to above mentioned tips, it is advisable to adopt smart agriculture technology in your livestock farming operation with the help of a professional. Effective implementation of smart farming applications allows for real-time livestock monitoring, reduces manual effort and increases farm productivity.