Which Squeeze Chute Is Your Best Option - Hydraulic or Manual?
Published on Wed, 02/02/2022 - 12:53pm
Which Squeeze Chute Is Your Best Option - Hydraulic or Manual?
By Janelle Hulme
Buying a new squeeze chute is exciting. It means you are upgrading or adding cattle equipment to your operation and increasing efficiency. Innovation and technology in the industry have drastically improved the products available and given cattle producers more options than ever.
Sometimes having so many choices make it harder to choose your best option. The trick is to understand how to navigate through the choices to come to a final decision. Buyer’s guides have assisted with product decisions from appliances to vehicles for decades. This guide streamlines chute buying for you, so that you can feel confident in your decision, and get on with the rest of your day.
CATTLE CHUTES 101
There are two types of cattle chutes to consider, the manual squeeze chute, and the hydraulic chute. Generations of cattle producers have used the manual chute and benefit from being able to use it anywhere, without a power source. The hydraulic chute has thousands of hours of research and development behind it, making it more powerful, efficient, and safer than the manual chute. In fact, the innovation used in hydraulic chutes makes them easier for operators and cattle, while providing the same flexibility found with manual chutes.
Manual squeeze chutes revolutionized cattle and handler safety, as well as efficiency on ranches. The manual chute provided a safe way to restrain animals and quickly complete any procedure, rather than trying to catch cattle in a cattle head gate installed on fence posts with a panel that functions as a squeeze.
The earliest manual squeeze chutes were homemade or manufactured with the available knowledge. Chute design improved as we learned more about low-stress cattle handling and paid closer attention to animal science to work with cattle’s natural instincts to benefit handlers, rather than work against them. These considerations encouraged cattle to enter the chute and ensured the experience did not deter them from re-entering the chute in the future, so chute shyness was eventually no longer a problem.
Hydraulic squeeze chutes were created because those that used manual squeeze chutes knew they could be even better. Using technology and the same low-stress cattle handling and animal behavior lens combined in manual chutes, the hydraulic chute was made and revolutionized the cattle industry. In a hydraulic squeeze chute, the cattle head gate, head restraint accessories, squeeze, and tail gate are all operated with hydraulics. This simplifies the role of the handler and minimizes the risk of injury for cattle and handlers.
THE BUYING GUIDE
The first decision that needs to be made is whether you will purchase a manual or hydraulic squeeze chute. Consider the time and number of handlers available, the number of cattle you are working, and the number of cattle you could be working in the future. There are many other factors to consider in purchasing a squeeze chute as well. Analyze each of the following and then make the best decision for your operation.
• Cattle Flow: First, consider cattle flow. Cattle should be able to flow into the chute using the basic principles of animal behavior, with little to no hesitation, and then easily exit so the next animal can enter.
• Design: The chute design will either enhance or diminish cattle flow. Look for a design that gives cattle easy entry and exit. Research has shown us that cattle instinctively move toward light. Does the chute you are considering draw them through by letting them see light through the tail gate? Sheeting placement in the alley should also allow light to guide cattle forward.
• Access: There is no point using a chute if you cannot access the cattle. Your squeeze chute should provide multiple access points to safely and efficiently complete any task, whether it is using a palpation cage, side access swing-out or drop-down doors, or through a needle access area to the neck.
• Portable: Can you move the chute to another area? Businesses are always evolving. Chutes should be portable so they can adapt to the needs of the operation as they change.
• Productivity Boost: A cattle chute that is well designed to enhance cattle flow and provide access to the animals will increase productivity in any operation
• Labor Intensity: Unfortunately, none of us are getting younger and many of us have multi-generation operations. The chute you choose should be easy to use, require less labor from the handlers, and save time and energy. One of the big benefits of hydraulic chutes is they require less hands-on labor and allow for greater efficiency.
• Warranty: Cattle are unpredictable. A warranty should be provided on any chute to protect you from any manufacturer defects and wear and tear. Companies should stand by their products in the event that you do require replacement parts or service, and you should be able to trust that your equipment will last for years to come.
• Parts: Sometimes, parts need to be replaced because we have worked them beyond their useful life. Select a cattle chute that has easily replaceable parts that can be ordered online or by phone and delivered to your operation to minimize downtime.
• Improving the Investment: Cattle chutes quickly offer a return on investment. There are ways to further improve the investment by selecting a chute that is quiet and offers slip-free footing for cattle. These features adhere to low-stress cattle handling and improve the experience for animals.
Buying a chute is not complicated. You are already the expert on how your operation works cattle. Analyze the chutes you are considering by going through the list of factors and checking off all that they meet. Imagine using the chute on your operation. It should make life easier. Remember that a chute is a long-term investment. Seek innovation and technology that will allow you to adapt your handling alongside changes in your operation. At the end of the day, a good cattle squeeze chute will lower the stress of both cattle and handlers and will help boost efficiency on your ranch for generations
Still on the fence about which squeeze chute may be best for you? Visit arrowquip.com/buying-guide to download a chute buying guide to help you narrow down your choices and find the best option for you and your ranch.