About Low Stress Stockhandling
Stockmanship has re-emerged as an important ingredient for successful livestock businesses. Human - livestock interaction has been changing. Over the past 20-30 years most grazing operations have to varying degrees substituted the need for high levels of stockmanship by changing yard design and facilities. Unfortunately our human nature has focused more on what we want and less on what animals want.
Low Stress Stockhandling places the emphasis is on mutually beneficial outcomes for stock and handlers regardless of yard design.
The foundation for Low Stress Stockhandling is 4 Basic Animal Instincts that explain what animals want and why they behave the way they do. In addition there are 7 Principles that guide how we can interact with the animals to work with those natural instincts and produce low stress outcomes. If the right methods are implemented, livestock will move with less stress through most facilities. Moving stock can be a low stress, painless activity for the livestock and the handlers.
The business benefits of training people in animal handling are enormous as it leads to improved production gains, better meat quality and higher economic return for the livestock industry.
Research shows that one of the major causes for losses in meat quality (bruises, mortality, meat downgrades) is from poor handling by the stock handlers. Animals can be moved through the entire system with minimal force from people or mechanisms.
Meat quality defects can be caused by poor transport and preslaughter handling (more bruising, higher DFD, PSE and carcass downgrades). Dark cutting meat is a result of the failure of muscle to produce enough lactic acid to reduce its pH after death from about 7.2 to 5.7 or less. The failure is because of a lack of glycogen in the muscle as a result of either poor nutrition, not allowing for it to build up or stress in handling causing too much to be used up before the animal is slaughtered.
Jim Lindsay founder of LSS believes that a person's attitude is the key to obtaining benefits for both people and livestock. The right attitude promotes harmony between man and animal in the work environment. We can put ourselves in a position to be able to consider the situation from an animal's point of view and therefore have an obligation to do so. When we have knowledge of how an animal reacts to different situations we can use that information to effect. Being an effective stockhandler is about knowledge, understanding, attitude and patience.