Several weeks ago I started a review on the chapter on cattle in the book by Temple Grandin entitled Animals Make Us Human.
I wanted to touch again on this subject and encourage folks who handle cattle to consider reading what Dr. Grandin has written. She brings up the point that not only should we treat cattle correctly because it is the right thing to do, but she also mentions that by reducing stress in cattle, studies have proven that milk production is increased, and improvements are seen in reproduction and weight gain.
An interesting point is that behavior researchers use defecation scoring as a measure of fear and stress. Anyone who has trained a first calf heifer in the stanchion, knows this to be true as they will many times defecate and urinate under stress until they become familiar with the routine. Dr. Grandin states, "If there is less poop, there is less fear." (p. 157) While she refers mostly to beef cattle, Dr. Grandin's observations can certainly be used to help those training dairy cattle as well, and especially those of us who are training family cows. She says, "To completely eliminate fear, handlers have to train their animals to voluntarily enter the restraining device to get a tasty treat. Habituation and positive reinforcement are the key." (p. 157)