Six month testing is in full swing and each test seems to come around so quickly. TB testing can be stressful for both the cattle, and everyone involved. You don’t have to have new high tech handling systems for the test to run smoothly and safely. I have not yet seen a perfect handling system for TB testing (I don’t think it exists) but you can make small changes to ensure that the handling system is fit for purpose:
All hands-on deck; having enough help for TB testing helps keep the cattle flowing
Understanding and working with natural behaviours can help during handling. A good example of this is the Bud Box which is based on the cattle’s desire to return the way they have come from. As you can see from the diagram, as the cattle turn to return from where it has come, the exit is up the race, remember size matters
Where possible, use solid barriers rather than gates help the cattle to move through the race more smoothly (this can be more difficult with mobile set ups)
Make sure the race and holding pen is high enough, ideally around 1.6m to avoid cattle trying to jump out
Cows hate slipping and sliding. By ensuring the race is clean, scraped/washed down regularly during the test, reduces the risk of the cattle slipping. Putting sand down can also help the cattle under foot. Taking a few minutes to do this really helps, it also helps everyone stay a little cleaner which is a bonus.
We all know that sometimes you can have the best system in the world and the cattle can still be wild and stressed. Therefore a good, well-maintained, crush with a yoke helps keep everyone involved safe and usually gets the job done.
Implementing small changes will hopefully lead to a less stressful day for the cows, handlers and a happy TB tester.
Charlotte Pasrons – Synergy Farm Health, Approved Tuberculin Tester (ATT)