Taking steps to mold cattle behavior early on is an important thing when breeding livestock, since it can get to define the attitude calves will have towards humans.
Although it may seem a bit irrelevant, human interaction for calves, in the form of gently petting, food rewards and just plain kindness towards the animals can make a big impact in their behavior. A study conducted at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, found that young Holstein calves that had their lower neck stroked for three minutes a day for two weeks after their birth developed better relationships with humans and increased their weight gain and even milk production later in their lives. This is why testing different approaches when it comes to interaction can not only reward your livestock by making them less afraid and stressed but also can make a positive impact in your production and general operations.
3 Approaches to Mold Cattle Behavior
Aim to be perceived as a leader, not a threat
This can be achieved mainly by providing the animals during their first 3 months of life with special attention and an open environment. Putting animals in stressful situations such as being in big crowds or being locked for a long time can make them fear humans and even show an aggressive attitude towards them.
Differentiate between breeds
Some breeds and genotypes are more likely to be afraid of humans than others. Treating different animals like they are the same isn’t the best way to get the most of them. Giving each breed the attention and treatment that’s best for them will allow you to mold cattle behavior in a more comprehensive way. For example, dairy breeds are more sensitive to sound and touch than beef breeds, and taking this into account when we interact with them and how we treat them can make a big difference on the way they act.
Teach them to be OK with human company
Accustoming cattle to human touch is a surefire way to turn their behavior towards people to be kinder. This includes getting them used to the sound, touch and general interaction with humans since they’re calves.
Cattle should not be considered as means to an end but rather as partners and as living creatures that deserve a fair treatment. Give your animals the possibility to have a better quality life and a kinder relationship with humans by focusing on cattle behavior techniques since their early days.
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