Iowa Farmers May Need To Re-Domesticate Their Cattle
Just like in humans, trust is the most important thing when raising and handling cattle.
Producers have been spending less and less time around their animals. Dr. Dan Thomson, an Animal Science Professor at Iowa State University says that many producers went from supplementing and caring for their cattle in the field to doing it on the fence line.
Thomson says this can cause the cattle to be more “squirrely” when people are moving around them.
The cattle don't see us and then when we Doctor cattle out in the pasture for foot rot or pinkeye or something of that nature, we're darting them. Cattle are not stupid. They know that when someone pulls into the truck and there's no feed, someone's getting shot with the dart gun.
This lack of interaction is leading to the “un-domestication” of cattle because they don’t know that farmers are caregivers and friends.
What are ways farmers can earn the trust of their cattle?
Thomson says it's important to be mindful of cues the animal gives. Knowing the animal's point of balance and spending time around the animal can help gain trust.
They're going to understand we're not a predator, the biggest secret that a cow has is its health. The last thing you would do is show someone that you don't trust your biggest secret, right?
He adds that by building trust with cattle, they are more likely to show the clinical signs of illness or injuries sooner.
Gaining this trust in the field is important for managing stress in cattle when they go to the feedlot. When cattle are used to people moving around them, such as in a chute situation, cattle will be more comfortable and move more smoothly.