Livestock Handling to Reduce Stress and Keep You Safe

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

If you’ve ever wished you could read your animal’s minds, then Temple Grandin is the person who can get you closer to that goal. Before reading her books, I never thought about how being a prey animal affects the personality of livestock. Imagine how nervous you would be if you knew intuitively that you could literally be someone’s lunch. Understanding that one fact has helped me to understand my animals so much more.

If you never owned livestock (like me) before moving to your homestead, your pets were probably all predators (dogs and cats). You never thought of them that way, however, because you probably never saw them kill another animal. But predators are much more brazen in new situations, and they tend to adapt to new people more quickly. I’ve heard people say that they don’t understand why their new sheep or goats are not more friendly with them. “Animals have always loved me,” they say. Yes, but those animals were probably all predatory animals, and prey animals have an entirely different mindset. Temple’s advice to sit down in the pasture and let livestock come to you is spot on. After all, predators stalk their prey, so if you chase livestock, you’re acting like a predator, and their instinct says to run! Even if you approach them slowly, if they don’t know you, they are still going to be scared because some predators sneak up on their prey slowly. (Think about a cat slowly creeping up on a mouse.)

When I saw Temple Grandin’s newest book, I had to have it, so I asked the publisher for a review copy. Temple Grandin’s Guide to Working With Farm Animals: Safe, Humane Livestock Handling Practices for the Small Farm gives every livestock owner the information they need to move their animals from place to place intelligently, as well as dozens of little tips to keep yourself safe and your animals less stressed. I especially enjoyed her section on using genetics to improve personality and how to reduce stress on your stock while castrating, tagging, and weaning. She explains the psychological differences between bottle-fed and dam-raised males and why bottle-fed bulls are more likely to kill someone than a dam-raised bull.

working with farm animals inside page

The book is filled with diagrams and drawings explaining how to move animals through chutes and gates, into pens and pastures and slaughter facilities. In fact, Temple has created cattle handling facilities for some of the largest livestock companies in the world, and this book contains designs that you can build yourself. This book is specifically written for the small farmer. There is hardly a page without photographs or drawings. If I were teaching a class on large livestock, this would be required reading. You might be able to fumble your way through with handling sheep and goats, but with pigs and cattle, you really need to work smarter, and this book can help you do that.

12 thoughts on “Livestock Handling to Reduce Stress and Keep You Safe”

  1. My biggest challenges are getting the goats sorted and organized for milking and getting them to go inside at night when they prefer to stay out and play. I would like to learn more about handling them.

  2. This book looks fantastic! And it’s much needed, especially these days with people returning to the land instead of growing up learning how to handle livestock

  3. This book sounds like it is full of valuable info. Have raised goats for over 10 years. Just started raising a few dairy steers this year. While I understood cows were totally different from goats, just realized recently when the steer got out of their pasture… they are much to big to handle like goats. They can’t really be led against their will. You have to understand them, and be able to outsmart them.
    Would really enjoy reading this book and gaining insight from the authors knowledge on the subject of handling various livestock.

  4. Moving my goats isn’t usually a challenge, but moving the donkeys is! Just a little nervous when they get up behind me or worse yet when I find myself behind them. And chickens….like herding cats! Sounds like this book would be a great resource to learn from the second best…guess who I think is number 1! šŸ™‚

  5. I have a son with Asperger’s, and I’ve always admired Temple Grandin and her advocacy for livestock. I would love to get my hands on this book for managing my goats šŸ™‚

  6. Iā€™d like to get solid advice on managing stress at feeding time and design ideas to incorporate into our new barn.

    • The main cause of stress at feeding time is not having enough space around hay feeders. And it can also lead to the more shy goats not getting enough to eat as they get pushed away. If you happen to have a particular dominant goat you may even need to have an extra hay feeder if she insists on having one all to herself. Rather than having one big long hay feeder, it’s better to have them spaced out. And since only milkers need grain, you just feed that on the milk stand, so feeding grain should not be an issue.

      If you have does raising kids, they obviously need grain because they are in milk. If you want to train them to milk, then it’s a good idea to give each one their own grain on the milk stand at least once a day so they learn to jump up there. When feeding grain to multiple does in a group, fenceline feeders work best. Every goat is facing the fence or the wall, so they are not facing each other. If you have a pan in the middle of the ground, they will butt heads over it, and even run through the pan, getting poop in there and sometimes spilling the grain.

  7. Having been a special needs teacher, I really appreciate Temple Grandin’s story and expertise. Since I’m new at raising goats, I would love to learn from Temple, so having that book would be fantastic! Thanks for the opportunity!


Leave a Comment

Join me online