Flight Zone And Point Of Balance

A tame riding horse or a show dairy cow has no flight zone, and leading it with a halter is the best way to move it. Most mammals and birds that are used in production agriculture are not completely tame, and they will keep a certain distance from a person. This is the flight zone, or the animal's safety zone.[3,7] There are three basic factors that determine the flight zone: 1) genetics; 2) the amount of contact with people; and 3) the quality of the contact, either calm and quiet or rough and aversive. Animal

Fig. 1 Cattle will turn and face the handler when the person is outside their flight zone. (Photo by Temple Grandin.)

movement patterns during herding are similar in herding both mammals and poultry.

When a person is outside the flight zone, the animals will turn and face the person (Fig. 1). When the person enters the flight zone, both livestock and poultry will move away (Fig. 2). If an animal rears up when it is confined in a chute, this is usually due to a person deeply penetrating the flight zone with the animal unable to move away. The person should back up and get out of the flight zone. The animal will usually settle back down when the person backs away.

The point of balance is an imaginary line at the animal's shoulder. To induce an animal to move forward, the person must be behind the point of balance at the shoulder.[8'9] To back an animal up, the person should stand in front of the shoulder. People handling animals should not make the mistake of standing at the animal's

Fig. 2 When the handler enters the flight zone, the cattle will move away. The best place to work is on the edge of the flight zone. (Photo by Temple Grandin.)

head and poking it on the rear to make it go forward. Doing this signals the animal to move forward and back at the same time.

Ruminants, pigs, or equines standing in a chute can be induced to move forward by quickly walking past the point of balance in the direction opposite of desired movement. The animal will move forward when the balance line is crossed. This principle can also be used for moving cattle in pens or on pasture. The handler walks inside the group flight zone in the direction opposite of desired movement and walks outside the flight zone in the same direction as desired movement.

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