Chet Johnson knows a thing or two about the benefits of proper livestock handling. As a sales representative for Applegate Livestock Equipment, he’s among the first to set up the Western Farm Show’s annual Stockmanship and Stewardship Low-Stress Livestock Handling Demonstration.

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Photo courtesy of WFS.

The popular event is courtesy of Western Farm Show sponsor MFA, Inc. and its Animal HealthTrack program. It’s led by Texas AgriLife Extension Specialist Ron Gill, Ph.D., who uses Applegate’s equipment in his demonstration.

Johnson has his own livestock operation in Fulton, Missouri, where he has long practiced Gill’s safe, quiet livestock handling techniques.

“Every year, I help Dr. Gill set up the equipment for the demo and every year, I learn something new about easy, safe cattle handling,” Johnson said. “It’s a must-see, even if you’ve seen it in the past. Dr. Gill’s material addresses handlers at all levels.

The Feb. 22 event features sessions at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., and is free to Western Farm Show ticketholders. Both sessions will prepare farmers and ranchers for implementing new techniques that keep cattle healthy and calm, while keeping handlers safe when processing them for vaccinations and feeding.

Understanding cattle behavior is crucial in working livestock, Gill says. Mastering that understanding can be used to a producer’s advantage while moving an anxious herd through chutes, sweeps, tubs and alleys during sorting, loading and transportation. It’s particularly true when the process is unfamiliar to the cattle.

Johnson is the first to hail the benefits of proper livestock handling. Prior to implementing Gill’s techniques, he witnessed first-hand how moving excited cattle through a corral system can quickly go awry and reduce efficiencies. Low-stress handling actually results in “a lot less yelling,” Johnson said.

“There are fewer injuries, too,” Johnson said. “Who hasn’t been kicked or run over at one time or another.

Teaching Gill’s low-stress livestock techniques is of practical importance to growers, producers and ranchers, according to MFA Strategic Feed Specialist Mike Spidle. In fact, the Midwest-based regional farm supply and marketing cooperative serves more than 45,000 farmers and owners in Missouri and adjacent states. MFA’s 145 Agri Services Centers, 24 locally owned affiliates and 400 independent dealers deliver products and services to help farmers succeed.

“This is a tried and true technique for improving efficiencies, reducing injuries and impacting a producer’s bottom line,” Spidle said. “It’s worth attending the demo each year to get the latest tips and techniques for success.”

Gill will deliver a wide range of tips that he says can be applied immediately or incrementally over time. In some instances, it could take several years to fully train the entire farm staff. And it requires practice, Gill said.

Gill has been providing technical expertise to livestock producers in beef cattle nutrition, management and livestock handling techniques for nearly a quarter of a century. His tips can improve cattle performance, health and even handler safety.

Similarly, MFA is committed to improving livestock management. MFA developed technology to help producers raise healthy livestock with little or no antibiotic use. Its Shield Technology comes standard in many of MFA’s feed products. Shield Technology is all natural and helps control oxidative stress in livestock. MFA has seen all livestock species benefit from the product.

Susan Fotovich McCabe can be reached at journal@hpj.com.

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