What to do if your animals get loose | Living the Country Life
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What to do if your animals get loose

Have a plan in place to coax escaped livestock back to where they belong

David Pugh is a former Professor of Large Animal Medicine, and now a clinical veterinary fellow and Project Veterinarian at Auburn University. He says animals get out  when the fence is down or the gate's left open, and they're hungry, thirsty, or scared.

"Usually with feed and hay, and some buckets to rattle, animals will usually come," Pugh says. "Particularly if they know you, you can get them to follow you. Not all of them will, though. It's a slow, deliberate movement into a given area and hopefully the goal from the sheep, or goat, or horse, or cow standpoint is to get back to an area that they're used to, and there's something to eat."

How you approach and move the animals depends on the species. When the pigs are out, grab a piece of plywood. Pigs can't pick their heads up very far, so they'll think it's a wall and will move accordingly.

Cattle should be herded uphill and into a place with a circular pattern so they can't see ahead where they're going. If the escapee is a horse, the person who knows the horse best should approach it with a halter and lead line.

Pugh says it's very important that everyone helping you knows what the game plan is prior to starting the round-up process. "If you get a bunch of rednecks and cowboys go chasing things around, then you're going to have a worse problem," Pugh says. "So it's got to be a slow, deliberate movement into an area and everybody that helps do this, you tell them we're going to do this real slow, and I'm in charge. If you don't want me to be in charge then get out right now. We're not going to have an argument in the middle of this thing because that's a bad deal."

Get the animals into a secure, pre-arranged area while you fix the spot where they got out, because if they escaped once, they'll do it again.

The School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis has tips for escape prevention and capture at public events.

Radio interview source: Dr. David Pugh, Clinical Veterinary Fellow, Auburn University

Listen here to the radio story (mp3)

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