FAKE NEWS: “Low Stress Cattle Handling Tips” That Aren’t Low Stress At All

Fake news is everywhere. Unfortunately, sometimes it is difficult to discern which news is fake and which news is accurate. The cattle industry has not been immune from the onslaught of fake news, and one area where we have seen an increasing amount of fake news is around low stress cattle handling tips.

The question becomes, how do you determine which low-stress cattle handling tips are fake, and will only add stress to your cattle if you incorporate them into your operation? First, it is important to evaluate any low stress cattle handling tips that you see or hear. Check the sources and determine if it is reputable, if the tip matches other cattle handling tips that are low stress, and if other cattle handlers are recommending it. Checking sources is one of the best ways to debunk myths.

Next, evaluate the cattle-handling tip from the perspective of your cattle. You have been working with animals for a long time, and know how a herd reacts, what works, and what agitates the herd or creates challenges for you as a handler. Trust your instincts. If something does not seem like a low stress cattle handling tip, it probably isn’t.

Remember, with low stress cattle handling we have to go slow in order to move fast. 

So, what are some of the low stress cattle handling tips we have seen that count as fake news? Here are a few of the more common and stressful situations.

1. Filling the crowd pen

Cattle are herd animals and want to see and be near other cattle. However, filling the crowd pen to capacity is stressful for cattle. They are pushed against each other and the lack of space to move around increases the amount of stress they experience. Only fill your crowd pen to half of its capacity.

2. Crowd the cattle

Cattle are sensitive and there is a minimal amount of movement needed by the handler to prompt the cattle to move. Handlers do not need to crowd the flight zone to make cattle move. It took years to dispel myths about waving arms and yelling at cattle to get them to move. The same is true with the fake news about crowding the flight zone. Use the flight zone to your advantage and let it do the work for you instead.

3. Not understanding sight lines

There are some areas of a cattle-handling system that need to have open sight lines, and in others, a solid side is better. Hours of research and development on animal behavior have helped determine which sight lines should be where. Remember that good lighting is always part of low stress cattle handling, and cattle are drawn to light.

4. Extra gates in the crowd pen

Some fake news on low stress cattle handling recommends leaving a larger area in your handling system instead of adding extra gates to separate cattle. It is better for the cattle if there are more gates and smaller groups of cattle. Gates with open sight lines (see fake news item number two) will keep stress low since the cattle can still see the other cattle. However, extra gates will help reduce crowding and give the cattle more room to move. There is a strategy to this, and you can get some tips in this blog.

5. Cattle handling is quickly learned

Cattle handling techniques, especially low-stress cattle handling, is not something that is learned once and never revisited. Effective stockmen and women understand that low stress cattle handling techniques are learned and continuously improved and enhanced. Handlers should have regular updates and learning opportunities for low stress cattle handling. This will ensure that your skills are at their best.

6. Acclimating cattle

There are sources that say that if you use low stress cattle handling techniques you do not need to acclimate the cattle to new handling systems or other situations. This is fake news. Acclimating cattle is a key tenet of low stress handling. Appropriately acclimating them will further reduce their stress.

Finally, do not trust a tip that promises to save time. Remember, with low stress cattle handling we have to go slow in order to move fast. Slowing down will help us be more efficient in the long run when we are working with cattle. There is enough fake news in the world without having it in the cattle industry.

Let’s can work together to eliminate fake news surrounding low stress cattle handling.

How to Acclimate Cattle

Low-Stress Cattle Handling Equipment


Low Stress Cattle Handling is Not Low Pressure Cattle Handling
Low Stress Cattle Handling Strategies
Stress-Free Handling
The Do’s and Don’ts of Handling Cattle

About the Author

Dana Charban, Manager of Content Strategies and Journalist for Arrowquip, catching black cow in Q-Catch 86 Series cattle chute

Dana Charban

Dana Charban is the Content Manager for Arrowquip. As a small town girl from rural Manitoba, Dana gr...

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Email Dana Charban: dana.charban@arrowquip.com