When it comes to handling sheep there has never been the same level of scrutiny and potential deemed risk as with say, cattle, but it should be looked upon in the same light. Setting up safe and clean systems of sheep handling is important for several reasons – it helps to create and maintain high standards of health and quality of life for the sheep, it helps to improve the quality of the product the consumer received, and as a result it increases profits over time. With good handling, and high-quality sheep products that help to maintain high levels of hygiene, cleanliness, and health as a result, you can see real improvements in the operation of a sheep farm.
There are several reasons why good sheep handling should be of a concern, and a priority on your farm. The first is to point out the stress placed on sheep during many daily tasks on a farm. If handled incorrectly, sheep can suffer immense stress during tasks such as shearing. If this continues over time this can lead to a greater chance of suffering illness and disease through reduced immunity, as well as causing potential reproductive issues.
Rough handling of sheep can also cause bruising. This can have long-term consequences for the health of the sheep and the cause lower profits as a result. With good practice you can ensure that there is a greater efficiency in the time spent with sheep. Bad handling can lead to greater time being taken to perform daily, and simple, tasks. Creating a safe and good handling system helps to speed up the movement of all sheep, reduce handling time, and create a more efficient output.
It isn’t just the sheep that this can have a positive impact on over a longer period of time. With good handling in place and clear training and sheep handling products to utilise, workers on site will have a much safer environment to work in. You’ll experience a reduction in potential injuries and an increase in cost efficiency and productivity.
When working out a good sheep handling process, always ensure that sheep come to you as naturally as possible, rather than having to push them through a system unwillingly. Each sheep handling system will be unique to the breed, the specific environment and terrain being worked on, so be thorough with research and test out different methods to find the right fit for your farm and your sheep.
Despite that there are some universal truths to be aware of. This includes the myth that there needs to be panic and a chase to move sheep through a handling system. Instead, you should encourage natural movement, motivating sheep based on the herd type and character, at a steady, controlled pace.
Always make sure you work with a supplier of sheep handling products that help you to create the perfect environment for your specific farm and the specific sheep you are working with. This will help you to create an environment that encourages a stress-free life for the animal, and a greater efficiency and productivity for the workers and farm as a whole.