Paddle to replace drover's stick
Cattle drovers at Athenry Mart have taken to herding cattle with new 'paddles', designed to replace the traditional stick.
The paddles, which are similar to those used for herding pigs, are designed to be more visible to the cattle and therefore more effective for herding.
Research has shown that animals react better to the paddles than sticks because the animal will turn and move quicker at the sight of a larger paddle than a narrow stick.
It is believed cattle have poor vision directly behind them and in their flight zone to the front of them. The paddles were first used in training courses run by ICOS for cattle drovers, said ICOS' Ray Doyle.
"In an ideal world, we would not be using sticks at all," he said.
"In an ideal world, we would have facilities based on the designs of Temple Grandin, an American woman who designs lairages and chutes that animals move more willingly through without being hit.
"Our training courses, which were a requirement of EU legislation, were about trying to teach our drovers not to hit cattle," he said.
"But to be honest, some of the biggest problems we have is to manage the farmers themselves."