Cattle, like all animals, have their specific field of vision and flight zones.
Knowing about these can be important in both mustering the cattle, that is moving it from one place to another, understanding cattle behaviour, and understanding how to approach cattle without any safety risk. After all they are big animals and especially a large group of them can do great harm.
Field of Vision
A few facts about cattle's field of vision can help you better understand them:
- Cattle have a field of vision of 330 degrees.
- Their monocular vision has no depth perception as they have no vision behind them.
- They are blind in the area in front of their nose.
- They have binocular vision with a depth perception of over 25 - 50 degree arc.
Flight zone is the zone, that once you enter it the animal will try to get away from it. Test it at the park, with some ducks for instance, you will notice that there is a specific distance once they will start flying off. This distance is not arbitrary.
There is a circle of safety around an animal. When a person penetrates the flight zone, the animals reaction would be to move away.
In cattle, the point of balance is the animal shoulders from the side and the centre of the head from the front. Depending on which side of the point of balance you enter the cattle's flight zone, it will move into a different direction.
- Going behind the point of balance, the animal moves forward.
- Going in front of point of balance, the animal moves backward.
Cattle moves effectively when they can see the handler at all times. Handlers that shouts and excite the cattle would enlarge the flight zone. Handlers direct cattle through the manipulation of their flight zones.
Similarly, using a fence achieves the same outcome, however, if there was no fence, the animal would turn away.
Facing front on with cattle
- Moving towards cattle, the beast will move backward or turn away
- Imagine a line running directly through the cattle from the posterior to anterior. We can deflect cattle sideways by moving to either sides of the imaginary line
Using the principles of field and vision and flight zone is very important when it comes to move cattle either to muster them or to move them between paddocks.
Moving the herd in a curve is much more easier with the use of a fence. Once the herd begins to move in the right direction the handler should work on edge of flight zone. By entering/ retreating from flight zone alternately at 45 – 60 degrees, the handlers keeps the mob moving at the desired pace.
Remember: Make sure you always make your presence known. Don't feel shy to yell out to the cows while moving them. You can also pat them on the backside. They have a good fat cover and this doesn't hurt them.
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