Progress Made in the Area of Animal Handling Over Past 25 Years

Farmscape for October 12, 2023

Full Interview 8:15 Listen

A livestock handling specialist with J Woods Livestock Services says tremendous progress has been made over the past 25 years in the area of animal handling. The topic, “Why Pigs Do What They Do, Not What We Want Them to Do” will be discussed as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2023 November 7th and 8th in Saskatoon. Jennifer Woods, a livestock handling specialist with J Woods Livestock Services, says if you understand the animal’s behaviors and motivations you will know how to handle them.

Clip-Jennifer Woods-J Woods Livestock Services:
I’ve been at this 25 years and I’ve definitely seen progress in regards to animal handling. We have a lot of science behind it.
A lot of people are familiar with Dr. Temple Grandin who’s really led that change in animal behavior and handling and it all ties into welfare so we’ve really ramped up our animal welfare game and handling and behavior is a big part of that.

You can also look at meat quality because the way they are handled impacts meat quality and we have a ton of science behind that.
We also look at the human safety aspect of it so, as we started to focus more and more on human safety, handling comes into that also. Low stress handling is the same as safe handling and it all gets tied in together. Handling is a big part of audits also so, when we do animal welfare audits whether during transportation and slaughter or in barns, we audit animal handling.

We’ve seen a big increase in training materials for that and a lot of different people out there are doing training and associations offering training programs and certification programs and it’s just been a really positive change over the years watching this progression and awareness of handling and behavior and how it impacts all aspects of hog production.

Woods says usually the animals are doing exactly what we are telling them to do according to where we are standing, to our body language, to how we’re reacting to them and it can be very frustrating for handlers if they don’t understand that. She says once you understand their behaviors and their motivations handling them will become much easier.

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