Cattle handling is a skill that takes time to hone. The goal of handling cattle is to minimize the stress on the animal. Prolonged stress can make an animal prone to illness. Handlers have a unique appreciation for cattle; they understand the behaviour of animals, allowing them to intuitively predict animal behaviour and move them in a way that leverages the natural instincts (flight zones) of cattle, thus reducing the stress on the cattle.
All cattle have a flight zone – the circle of safety around an animal. Understanding principles of the flight zone reduces stress on cattle and minimizes incidents to handlers. The rule of thumb when working in the flight zone is that the animals will move away if a person penetrates their zone. As such, handlers can approach the animal from different angles and positions to affect different movement in the cattle. Handlers must be careful not to get too close to the animal. If the flight zone is penetrated too deeply, some animals will panic and try to escape.