Improving sheep handling for better returns

“On all sheep farms, animals have to be moved and handled several times during the year.Common treatments such as yarding, drafting,shearing and crutching are all unnatural activities for sheep, and can compromise overall performance if managed badly.Up to 40% of the time taken to perform a procedure can be spent moving sheep through yards and races. Well designed systems and methods can speed flock movement and reduce this ‘wasted’ time.Planning a system before construction can also save time and money in the long term,by improving efficiency, worker health, and reducing any stress caused to the animals.The most successful handling systems exploit the normal behaviour of sheep, and include features that encourage animal movement in the direction required. It is better to make use of the sheep’s willingness to learn to negotiate a system, rather than using fear as the motivator.This manual gives an insight into a range of sheep behaviours that all sheep farmers will be familia rwith, and explains how, by understanding these,a system can be designed and operated to handle sheep calmly, safely and efficiently for better returns.”—Katie Brian, BRP Project Co-ordinator, EBLEX

Improving handling systems for better returns

(EBLEX exists to enhance the profitability and sustainability of the English lamb and beef sectors. It is funded by a statutory check-off paid on all beef and sheep animals slaughtered in or live animals exported from England.)