In the human world, stress management is having a moment...and for good reason. Our stress levels have a profound effect on our physical and mental health with increased stress playing a role in everything from headaches to heartburn to heart attacks. It’s not hard then to imagine the negative impact of stress on livestock as they make their way from pasture to plate.
Animals under stress suffer decreased immune health and increased susceptibility to disease. They often display changes in behavior and act in ways that may be dangerous to themselves and handlers. It brings a reduced quality of life and ultimately has an effect on meat quality.
At Roam Free, principles of low-stress handling guide every interaction between the animals and our team. We start by raising our bison as close to wild as possible, interfering very little with their natural lives. The herd structure is kept intact, calves aren’t artificially weaned from cows, and our bulls remain with our cows.
When we do handle our bison we utilize techniques that keep our animals calm, content, and unafraid. The basics of this type of handling involves the handler applying pressure, the animal moving away from pressure, and the handler then releasing the pressure.
As a result, the animals very quickly learn the responses that give them release from pressure.
Using these techniques we build a relationship and level of trust between animal and handler.
Ultimately we seek to replace force with consistent sound handling practices that allow bison to learn what we want and then provide them with opportunity to do it willingly. From pasture management to working bison in a corral, we do our best to place ourselves on the other side of the horns and make decisions based on what’s best for our animals. The result is less stress. And less stress means happier bison.