Working with sheep safely

As many of us will be aware, working with livestock can be a hazardous task.

Poorly designed races and pens, unsafe animal handling practices, unpredictable animals and inexperienced staff all make the practice even more risky.

Here are ten things to remember when working with sheep, to make sure you do so safely:

  1. Sheep should have a clear, unobstructed view of the direction they are heading and the rest of the mob.
  2. Use wide gates to maintain good sheep flow, whenever possible.
  3. Ideally, sheep should take a familiar route and direction through the yards for all handling operations.
  4. Take sheep behaviour into account when positioning handling facilities –generally sheep will move towards the receiving yards in anticipation of escape or release to their paddock.
  5. Sheep move willingly around curves and corners into narrow races.
  6. Sheep move better on flat ground, rather than up or down hill – if the land slopes, movement should be across the slope rather than up or down.
  7. Sheep move readily towards light, and avoid dark areas, shadows and dead ends.
  8. Forward-moving sheep should not see the operator, nor other sheep moving into the yards
  9. Use ramps with side rails and walkways to load sheep, where possible.
  10. Consider low-stress handling methods.

To learn more about low-stress handling methods for livestock, take a look at this demonstration video with Boyd Holden.

Find out more about working with livestock.