Cattle handling facilities may be used for a variety of purposes, including routine health procedures such as vaccination, body weight measurement and pregnancy testing. Building a well-designed cattle handling facility is important in order for herders to keep and move cattle safely and efficiently, reduce animal stress and prevent injuries or accidents.
Stockpro™, a supplier of livestock equipment, agrees that livestock handling facilities must be made of durable and high-quality materials to promote efficiency and safety, and minimise operational cost.
Whether you’re starting a small homestead or operating a large sale yard, here are some of the factors you need to consider in designing a cattle handling facility:
Animals are distracted easily so it is ideal to build your facility in a place where there are minimal distractions such as noise, moving vehicles or crowds of people. An ideal location is a pasture which has a good drainage system, water and power source. It must also be accessible to loading trucks under any type of weather. If you are building the facility away from your residence, you should also consider the security of the location to prevent vandalism, theft or fire accidents. You should also find a place that is large enough to accommodate future expansion.
These considerations are essential especially when you’re constructing a permanent facility rather than a portable one.
Choosing the right materials are as important when planning to build a cattle handling facility. You should invest in heavy-duty supplies that won’t easily break, bend, rust or crack under changing weather conditions or natural wear-and-tear.
The size of your facility should not be too wide or spacious as it will allow the cattle to run around the pen, making it hard for the herder to gather them together or lead them to another part of the facility.
Cattle handling facilities are usually built in a circular or semi-circular shape. This adapts to the cattle’s natural behaviour to run away when they feel scared or sense danger. A pen without many sharp corners also reduces the possibility of animal bruising, which happens when cattle bump into corners, the gate or each other.
A properly-designed handling facility should include the following elements:
- Catch Pen – This serves as a holding area for cattle sorting and may be installed with gates to separate cattle into groups.
- Lane or Alley – This connects the catch pen to the crowding pen. It should be 10 to 16 feet to wide to prevent the cattle from running past the handler.
- Crowding Pen – Also known as the sweep tub because it is typically designed with a gate that swings to funnel the cattle into the working alley.
- Working Alley – It is an area where the animals are lined up in a single-file leading to the chute section
- Squeeze Chute – It is a section where the animal is individually restrained. Chutes with a head catch are safer because it prevents the animal from moving away and lets the handle have access to the animal’s head and neck.
Now that you have these basic tips in mind, you can start designing and building your own cattle handling facility. Some livestock and farming equipment manufacturers also offer customisable designs that can work around your budget and meet your requirements.