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Efficient handling system for sheep and goats

Efficient handling system for sheep and goats

By Blake Jackson

Creating a stress-free environment for moving and handling sheep or goats is crucial for effective management. Evaluating or designing an efficient handling system becomes imperative as these animals transition to pastures.

When considering a handling system, it's essential to address both human and animal needs. Ensuring comfortable working conditions is key; placing the system in a sheltered area accessible to the animals helps avoid adverse weather conditions. A dedicated handling location free of manure and bedding is optimal to prevent frustrating gate malfunctions during operations.

Additionally, the layout should encourage animals to move willingly through the system. Choosing a well-drained location minimizes discomfort, especially during treatments for foot problems like foot rot. Level ground or an uphill setup aid in smoother animal movement, as they naturally prefer ascending. Positioning the system away from direct sunlight prevents animals from being blinded or frightened by bright lights.

Another important consideration is minimizing visual distractions and perceived threats within the handling system. Using curved or solid-sided panels prevents animals from seeing ahead or being alarmed by shadows or objects. This design harnesses their natural inclination to follow each other and prevents potential escapes.

Safety is paramount in handling systems; ensuring panel height and material strength prevents animals from jumping out or breaking through. Regular inspections to eliminate protruding bolts or hazards further enhance safety and reduce the risk of injury during handling tasks.

Ultimately, a well-designed handling system facilitates smooth operations and minimizes stress for both animals and handlers. Taking the time to assess and refine the system now ensures efficiency and reduces stress when routine tasks with sheep or goats need to be carried out. Even minor adjustments based on these considerations can significantly improve the overall experience of working with these animals.

For more information on sheep or goat production, contact Melanie Barkley at the Penn State Extension office at 814-623-4800 or by email at

Photo Credit: pexels-pavel-bondarenko

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Categories: Pennsylvania, Livestock, Goats & Sheep

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