4 Critical Questions You Should Ask Before Building A Cattle Handling System

Published on Thu, 08/01/2019 - 11:07am

 4 Critical Questions You Should Ask Before Building A Cattle Handling System.

 By Aleeya Laureola.

 Building the right cattle handling system for your operation relies on proper planning and research. As no two cattle operations are the same, each would have a distinct set of needs and priorities that are different from the rest. What works for your neighbor might not work out well for you.
The three basic components of a cattle handling system are the tub, alley, and chute. With a variety of options to choose from, it is easy to lose track of what your operation truly needs.
Here are 4 critical questions you should be asking before you build or update your cattle handling system:

What type of operation are you running?  
This question goes beyond just classifying your cattle operation as either cow-calf, backgrounding, feedlot, or any combination of the three. Your budget, herd size, number of staff members, and space restrictions are important factors that should be considered when choosing equipment.  
Tip: Research on financing deals and available grants in your area. There might be some wiggle room in your budget if you do a little more digging.  

Stationary or portable?  
There are pros and cons to both, as well as practical reasons why you should choose one over the other. A stationary system allows you to modify it over time, and create different configurations. Although semi-permanent systems are not easily moved, you are able to keep adding components to it as your operation grows. With a portable system, you can work cattle virtually anywhere. This proves highly beneficial for operations that have multiple grazing locations, and for responding to emergencies. You could even consider renting out your portable system as an extra source of income.  


Manual or Hydraulic CHUTE?  
The chute is the be-all and end-all of a cattle handling system. With hundreds of manufacturers and models available, deciding whether you want a manual or a hydraulic could help narrow down your choices. Hydraulics allow you to operate the chute with one simple control system, while manuals are designed with levers and have little to no set-up required. Although a hydraulic chute allows you to process more cattle with less time and effort, it is generally the more costly option than its manual counterpart. When budget proves to be a limitation, a well-designed manual squeeze chute can still provide you with optimal performance features despite lacking automation.     
Note: Investing in the best chute is highly important, but if your tub and alleys are not designed for optimal flow, you will have a difficult time leading cattle into the chute.

Last, but not the least: Is it safe?
This is the most important question you should be asking when building or evaluating a system. Proper cattle handling equipment should minimize risk and allow you to control the animal without being placed in harm’s way. As a rule of thumb, always see the equipment in person before making a purchase to properly evaluate its quality. The last thing you would want to do is pay for a hospital bill after purchasing new equipment.
Tip: Brush up on proper cattle handling principles and techniques to guide you in designing your system. Learning how livestock behave and react will help you decide if a piece of equipment will work best with your animals or not.

Building a cattle handling system is a serious investment. Ensuring that you are making an informed, well-thought-out decision for you and your livestock business is the key to living without buyer’s remorse. Always remember that the right cattle handling system should make life simpler for your operation, allowing you to have time for things that truly matter.
For inspiration on cattle handling system designs, visit Cattle Working Systems at arrowquip.com. If you would like assistance in designing the right cattle handling system for your operation, contact the Arrowquip Team at +1-866-383-7827 or cs@arrowquip.com.