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K-State Research and Extension News

Low-Stress Cattle Handling Workshop set for Sept. 26

Nationally renowned veterinarian Tom Noffsinger will headline the event in Williamsburg.

beef cattle

LYNDON, Kan. – “Cattle caregivers have exciting obligations, responsibilities, and opportunities to contribute to cattle wellbeing. Shifting priorities from disease detection to performance enhancement  results in new levels of cattle welfare,” according to Tom Noffisinger, veterinarian and nationally-recognized expert on handling livestock with minimal stress.

Noffsinger will be a guest speaker at the “Low-Stress Cattle Handling Workshop” in Williamsburg, Kansashosted by the K-State Research and Extension Frontier Extension District and Coffey County Extension on Sept. 26.

Presentations will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Williamsburg Community Building, located on old 50 Highway in downtown Williamsburg. The workshop is free but pre-registration is required and will be limited to the first 225 participants. Call 785-828-4438 or 620-364-5313 to register by Sept 19. Sponsors with commercial booths will be on site for participants to visit. 

The day starts with a presentation on “Animal Welfare Concerns and Consumer Perceptions of Livestock Production,” by Kansas State University veterinarian Dan Thomson. Noffsinger will then continue the morning session with a presentation including videos that cover basic concepts and introducing techniques of low-stress livestock handling with cattle.

In the afternoon, attendees will move to a nearby ranch with facilities and cattle where Noffsinger will conduct live demonstrations, showing techniques of low-stress handling while sorting in pens and working through facilities. Other presentations will include: “Livestock Working Facility Design with Safety in Mind,” and “Weaning Practices to Reduce Stress on Calves.”

Other presenters include: veterinarian Dave Rethorst, Kelley Lenz of WIBW radio and Joe Bichlemeyer, owner of Silkville Ranch.

Today’s consumer of meat products is becoming more concerned with the welfare of the animals along all phases of the food production chain. Stress on an animal at any point along the journey from pasture to plate decreases productivity of the animal, profitability to the producer as well as quality of product to the consumer.

Cattle handling has evolved a great deal from the “whoopin and hollerin” picture depicted in movies. Conscientious producers today are becoming increasingly aware of the public’s concerns and are striving to incorporate a greater number of practical quality assurance practices into their livestock production enterprises. Low-stress livestock handling throughout the production chain is one aspect of this quality assurance effort.

Stockmanship is an under-appreciated and under-utilized component of operating sustainable livestock operations and just one essential component is low-stress livestock handling. Keeping stress to a minimum accrues benefits over conventional livestock handling in several categories, including performance, efficiency, safety, animal welfare and quality of life.

Numerous scientific studies indicate that animal performance  such as weight gain, conception rates, milk yield, immune function and carcass quality are positively correlated with good livestock handling practices and negatively correlated with coercive handling practices. 

The first step in adopting low-stress cattle handling practices is to develop a calm attitude when moving cattle. The second is to fully understand the principle of flight zones and point of balance.

Caretakers can have a positive impact on cattle health, performance, and wellbeing through effective low-stress handling at key interventions like calving, tagging, grazing, weaning, processing and shipping. Producers who concentrate on low-stress handling skills will recognize abnormal behavior and attitude and develop the confidence and skill to manipulate behavior to improve animal welfare. 



K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well‑being of Kansans.  Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan.

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For more information:
Rod Schaub - K-State Research and Extension Frontier District - 785-828-4438 or rschaub@ksu.edu