As a high cattle turnover business Mort & Co’s Grassdale feedlot has implemented a new cattle handling training program to increase animal welfare and staff safety.
During a public demonstration last week, the company showed-off their nine principles of cattle handling training program for staff.
Grassdale feedlot is one of Australia’s largest cattle feeding facility with a total of 94,000 head of livestock processed through the feedlot last month.
Mort & Co Grassdale feedlot manager Brad Robinson said a total of 54,000 head of cattle were directly handled through cattle yards during last month as well.
On such a large scale feedlot, Mr Robinson noted the importance of good cattle handling to ensure the maintenance of staff health and safety, animal welfare and meat quality standards.
“When you are doing those sort of numbers there are opportunities to work on your cattle handling skills and continually improve standards for the best outcome for staff and cattle,” he said.
Employing a large number of feedlot staff presented a challenge of training all people at every point of cattle handling and processing. To overcome this the Grassdale feedlot developed a new system approach that trains all staff on the important nine principles of cattle handling.
“These cattle handling principles can be applied in all situations by staff and it doesn't matter if they are in a small facility, large cattle yards, paddock or loading/unloading cattle trucks,” Mr Robinson said.
“The nine cattle handling principles allow staff to handle cattle efficiently, quietly and safely.”
The nine principles include:
- Placing pressure on cattle and releasing pressure on cattle
- Working with cattle flight zones
- Working with appropriate numbers of cattle in different situations and facilities
- Understanding cattle’s natural tendencies
- How to use low-stress cattle handling skills to move cattle
The nine cattle handling principles and how staff apply them during practically cattle work in the facility was demonstrated by a newly trained Mort & Co feedlot staff member who pointed out the most important focus is to remember cattle have “their own minded” and to work with their natural instincts.
The Mort & Co Grassdale feedlot has also implemented a ‘Bud Box’ system for moving cattle into races along to cattle crushes for processing and treatment.
In a United States cattle publication, On Pasture, the term “Bud Box” describes a kind of handling facility preferred by low-stress livestock handling icon Bud Williams.
The Bud Box works by moving animals quietly and standing in the right spot to quickly and easily move animals into a chute for treatment, weighing or loading.
Overall, the Bud Box is a facility designed to allow the handler to position themselves correctly to facilitate cattle flow out of a box into either the crowd alley leading to a race or to a truck load out. A key feature of the Bud Box system is to only use the large box to flow cattle in and out, but not to hold cattle in the pen. Dimensions are also important of the box system to successful use the design, but not as critical as cattle handler position in relation to the stock leaving the box. According to Bud Box experts, a proper handler position and attention to detail is essentially not to confuse the stock or frustrate the handler.
The basic rules of a Bud Box are that it needs to be 3.7 to 4.3 metres wide for most operations and 6 to 9 metres deep depending on the number of cattle needed to flow through the system at any given time, plus leaving the back translucent, covering the sides and entrance gate if necessary.