As winter housing of cattle gets underway on beef farms across the country, farmers will have a new set of management tasks to be completed and the daily work routine begins to change on the farm.

One of these management tasks with cattle being housed for the duration of the winter on many farms is the clipping of hair on their backs.

While some farmers choose not to clip the backs of their cattle at housing, many farmers will ritually clip them when going into the shed and would say it improves animal comfort and performance.

When clipping cattle, farmers should start with one run of the clipper along the base of the animal’s spine, with a further one or two runs either side to complete a full clipping of the topline.

It’s important that clipper’s are maintained and oiled before use and blades are sharpened if necessary.

It is also recommended to clip any hair on the animals tail also to avoid dirt building up on it and help keep the animal clean.

Benefits of clipping cattle

As cattle are housed, it can result in humid and high temperatures being created within a shed and cattle’s coats to grow thick and long as a result of decreased access to UV sunlight.

By clipping the backs of the animal, it allows excess heat to leave the animal’s body and cool down more effectively – which helps reduce the risk of the animal contracting pneumonia.

Clipping cattle will also help improve growth rates and daily liveweight performance as the animal is more comfortable and is better fit to regulate its body temperature.

From a herd-health perspective, it allows for the effective management of external parasites. By clipping the hair on the top of the animal, it removes the shelter area for lice to hide.

If using a pour-on dose to treat lice, ideally and practically it should be completed after the animals have been clipped, as this will allow for a close skin-contact treatment.

For cows calving in early 2022, by clipping their hair, it will ensure that dung will not gather on their tails causing udders to get dirty pre-calving.