Social Distancing from the Flight Zone

Published on Fri, 07/31/2020 - 10:37am

Social Distancing from the Flight Zone.

 Article provided by Moly Manufacturing

 The goal for any cattle handler should be to balance efficiency with safety, aiming for continuous forward flow of the animals. Fortunately, cattle handling equipment has come a long way, making it so much easier to move animals without jeopardizing human safety and while putting less stress on the animals.

The highest impact area in which we work in this industry is in the animals’ flight zone. We’ve narrowed these animals down, gone from a group of 50 head to four or five head, then we swing a gate in behind them and enclose them in a smaller area, which leads to stress and often kicks to the gates or bodily pressure on the gate. That’s where most of our injuries are occurring.

Cattle rely heavily on sight, sound, and smell when sensing the environment around them. With wideset eyes, cattle have panoramic vision, meaning they can see about 300 degrees around them, but not directly behind themselves. Vertically, the animal can see about 60 degrees, meaning they have to lower their head to focus on the ground. Cattle also have poor depth perception and cannot focus quickly, so they may need extra time to process stark changes between light and dark. Since cattle are sensitive to harsh color contrast, they may balk less in handling facilities that are monochromatic. And with high sensitivity to high pitch sounds, handling cattle as quietly as possible will result in fewer issues. Calm and Quiet cattle are key.

(2)Nearly half of all cattle handling injuries involve gates and other barriers that handlers were pushed into, or had pushed into them. Even tame cattle can injure their handlers, especially if they are startled or out of their normal environment. It’s important to predict what the animal might do during handling and plan accordingly. For example, a handler should avoid leading cattle into an enclosed area without an escape route, so creating a plan for escape before the cattle handling begins will avoid unnecessary injury. Pen layouts should include safety lanes with walk through doors for operators to easily maneuver throughout the facility. Place gates to avoid a 90-degree angle corner in the pen.

(1)Moving cattle calmly is important for the safety and wellbeing of the animals and the operators working with them. Ideally, a good facility will allow you to create continuous forward flow without entering the pen with the animals. A remote controlled Turretgate creates a new level of safety and efficiency in areas of high impact and high risk. The remote control allows you to keep out of the animal’s flight zone and creates a lower stress environment for the animal and operator.  Using TurretGate’s shuttle feature, there’s no more pushing gates back into oncoming animals, keeping a continuous forward flow. A spooked animal, even a small calf, can run into or run over a person and cause severe and sometimes permanent injuries. Reduced labor costs and reducing operator injury makes this the perfect investment for most operations.

Naturally, cattle follow cattle, and keeping the head up and forward is important to keeping forward flow. Take small groups of animals through the systems to keep them focused on moving forward. An adjustable single alleyway with remote control no-back keeps the head up and moving with the flow. The V-shaped or tapered alleyway keeps an animal’s head up so they cannot turn around. Keep one animal in the alley for the next group of animals to see and follow. Louvers can be added to alleyways to block the vision of the animal.

(4)Finding a squeeze chute that works best for your operation is critical and easily overlooked. One size does not fit all! Research chute options that you would like to have specifically for your operation and most importantly try them before you buy. SILENCER Hydraulic Chutes offer 100s of different configurations to build the perfect chute for your operation. The NRS, or Noise Reduction System, makes it the quietest hydraulic chute with the most body control. Hydraulic neck extender bars are the industry standard for vaccinations and neck access without bruising. The hydraulic lower squeeze fits the contour of the animals body shape to keep it upright and at a controlled pace when entering the chute for a better, safer catch each time. The low-pressure squeeze allows for enough adjustment to work small calves up to large bulls in the same chute. Consider a carrier if portability can be utilized on your operation.

(3)Sorting animals after the chute is a common practice that adds time and labor. A hydraulic sort gate added to the controls of the SILENCER Chute, give you a 3-way sort with no extra steps or time moving gates! Add 2 or more hydraulic sort gates for even more sort options. These can also be added to other areas of facilities with a remote control capability.
(5)Once you have your new system in place, don’t forget to show it off to your animals! Cattle can store negative or fearful memories for a long time, so it’s important that the animal’s first few times with your people and your equipment is as stress-free as possible. Run animals through the system without any poking or prodding a few times before you actually catch and work them. Calm handling will build trust with the animal, and result in a much safer interaction. A worthwhile investment in your time.

Because these systems are hydraulically operated by remote, it is possible for 1 or 2 people to move an entire herd hands-free with almost zero safety risk for the people processing the animals. No more hotshots to the animal to make them move. No more running to close gates or being in small pens with agitated animals. No more waiting for unreliable, untrained labor to help work cattle. No more costly work comp injuries.

In today’s world, there’s no reason that the wellbeing of your people should still be at risk when handling cattle. You can’t put a price on safety and we should continually be innovating to find new ways to improve cattle handling issues for feedyards, cow/calf operations, universities, veterinary clinics, dairies, and more.”
Fortunately, technological advances in the cattle industry have made it possible for good facilities to provide a safe working environment using modern equipment instead of relying on humans to engage the animals in close proximity.

Moly Manufacturing has more info about building your safer handling facility at You can also find helpful industry tips and techniques by following Moly Mfg on social media.