AnimalHandling101 Wiki

Restraining cattle humanely is the process of bringing the cattle into a position where it is not able to move under the least stress.

Knowing the correct procedure is important for both the animal and handler as handlers are susceptible to injuries.

Methods for restraining cattle include using the cattle crush and applying a halter .

Restraint using a cattle crush

Features of a cattle crush

A cattle crush or squeeze chute is a strongly built stall for holding cattle safely. It is used to enable easy access for examination of different size animals. Crushes are used to minimise the risk of injury.

There are different types of cattle crushes with different features. Typical features of the cattle crush include: push – pull lever, dual locking system, side gates (with slam gate latches), needle gates, inspection gates, bottom gate, and walk through vet compartment.

To restrain cattle in a cattle crush, you have to:

  1. Cattle restrained in the crush. The head will be outside the gate.

    Direct cattle into the open crush. Use the principles of the flight zone . Two people might be needed, one who makes the cow move and one who is ready to close the crush. But don't have too many people around the crush, as it might make the cow nervous.
  2. Close the dual headgate on the cows neck in front of the shoulders. This is done by moving the lever on the side of the crush down.
  3. Close the rear sliding gate for optimal animal control. By using your foot to manoeuvre the gate you avoid being in reach of the cattle, should it kick in defence.
  4. Operate the side squeeze in order to position the cattle Squeezing the animal in the crush actually calms it down and does not hurt it.
  5. A head holder can be applied for better control.

    Demonstration of using a modern cattle crush to restrain a cow.

Keeping the head in position you now can:

Restraint applying a halter

  1. Before putting on a halter, stroke the cattle on its head continuously without hesitating as cattle can sense the fear of a human. Putting on a halter will only be hard if the cattle senses your fear.

    Demonstration of putting a halter on a restrained cow.

  2. Hold the halter with the knot at a water drop position which indicates that the top part goes over the head and the lower hole is the nose piece. Walk toward the cattle but be sure to stand outside the flight zone of the cattle to prevent the cow from panicking. Place the rope of the head piece behind the ears of the cattle and the rope of the nose piece under the mouth then adjust the rope to fit the cattle. Pull the long string attached to tighten the halter. 
  3. Circle the rope on a pole. To prevent the cattle from moving its head when checking the eyes or ears, pull the rope until the cattle faces one direction. Tie the rope to the crush tightly to prevent the cattle from putting free.

General things to remember

Remember: There are different types of cattle crushes.

Cattle crushes vary highly, always familiarise yourself with the type of cattle crush you are using before moving a cow into it.

Remember: When you walk behind a cow or plan to touch it on the backside, always make your presence known.

If the cow is unaware it might get spooked, causing stress. It might also start to kick and it is possible to get hurt. This can be avoided by speaking to the cow while moving behind it.

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