Stress is a Symptom

Clare interacting with sweet Anna. Clare actually translates all of our emails into HTML code so they appear all nice and fancy when you open them. She’s one of our talented behind-the-scenes heroes! :)



This week, I want to touch on stress. We deal with it, animals deal with it. But we can manage our interactions into positive vibes. I think you’ll enjoy.

 

The atrocities seen on YouTube of animals being mishandled and mistreated has been a good thing in the long run. We obviously do not condone the actions displayed but the obscene clips spurred a noble movement toward animal welfare and best practices to keep both animals and humans safe. Temple Grandin became the face synonymous with the low stress handling movement. Temple recognized through her own very unique world of interpretation that animals respond in a predictable manner which can be learned and utilized to keep them calm and safe even during traditionally “stressful” events.

 

Stress is a symptom. Stress is induced by discomfort, distrust and fear of the unknown. Inexperienced handlers can betray the trust of an animal early in life. A young calf also observes it’s mother’s demeanor during uncertainty so one person’s mistake can last more than a generation. We can see it plain as day here on the ranch as we receive animals in from our ranchers. Animals that are handled poorly are far more stressed than animals that receive no human interaction at all. The response is learned. Understanding this nugget gives us the hope and power to correct it. Ensuring every interaction is positive breeds trust and confidence, lowering that animal’s guarded fear response.

 

The concept is very simple. Applying it can be tricky as it leaks into every area of our day. You sloww dowwwn e v e r y w h e r e. Which can be frustrating for some. But the goal isn’t getting done fast, the goal is taking care of the animals. Taking the long way around to not disturb bedded animals, tearing out a fence and rebuilding it to make a pasture rotation more natural, reversing the herd checking routine to make each interaction more positive, cutting out a section of expensive corral to put in a gate because animals naturally want to flow in that direction, exchanging an expensive handling chute for a more expensive chute that is quieter, taking an extra 20 minutes every day to just stand nearby to build trust... and the list goes on.

Positive interaction results. Chad is hooking up a float on a water tank in late winter as this group of young bison have basically accepted him as one of their own. This age group is naturally fearful or non-aggressive toward humans. A more typical response of animals with a history of poor human experiences would have this group of bison in the trees on the far hill. Not unlike humans, stress plays a major role in an animal’s wellbeing.

 

Enriching an animal’s life goes much deeper than simply ensuring they have food and water. But it takes someone passionate to go the extra mile. Low stress is also a symptom.

 

Live well this week,

Sean and the Northstar Tribe

**If you’re fascinated by the human ability to understand and interact with animals too, we recommend a fantastic movie highlighting Temple Grandin’s life.

 Click the photo or the link to the film on Amazon.

 Temple Grandin

Marielle, my sister and most accomplished Land and Livestock Manager here at Northstar, with Temple Grandin in Rapid City, SD.

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