At Grazers, our small but perfectly formed team works with and checks our cattle every day. Knowing the animals and understanding their natural activities and behaviour is important for every stock-person. Steve will often be found leaning on a gate checking out the herd. How does he know when everything’s OK?
Overall appearance: cattle should be generally clean (within reason!), have perky rather than floppy ears and be bright-eyed. Sunken eyes are a sign of dehydration and cloudy patches or gunky bits suggest the animal isn’t 100%. As with humans, the nose should be clean, not green and snotty.
Mobility: lameness can be a big problem in a herd, especially when the ground is very wet and muddy or very hard and dry. Cattle should move by using all four legs and feet correctly and bearing weight evenly.
Breathing: should be even, regular and comfortable. Laboured breathing and coughing can be a sign of pneumonia, especially in young animals.
Sociability: as cattle are herd animals, it’s natural for them to want to be together. If an animal doesn’t hang out with the group or gets left behind, it’s usually a sign that it’s under the weather or something’s wrong.
There are five basic freedoms that all farm animals should enjoy:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst.
- Freedom from discomfort.
- Freedom from pain, injury and disease.
- Freedom to express normal behaviour.
- Freedom from fear and distress.
A farmer’s job is highly skilled. They often spend more time with their livestock than their family! It is for this reason that the farmer’s gut instinct plays a huge role in the care of their animals.
We love our South Devon Cattle so no matter the weather or whatever else is going on, we make sure they are checked throughout the day, every day.
Many will title this ‘Highest Welfare’ – for us it’s just doing our job.