11 Working And Feeding Facilities - Uaex.edu

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Chapter 11Working andFeeding FacilitiesFacilities and equipment for working and feedingcattle are required for the proper management andcare of cattle on the farm. No one should enter into acattle operation without the proper facilities andequipment to care for and manage the herd.Working FacilitiesWell planned working facilities and well designedequipment will immediately start to pay for itself inthe following ways: (1) fewer injuries to cattle andpeople, (2) less stress on cattle and people, (3) an easeof working that will prevent cattle working frombecoming a dreaded job and (4) a total cattle manage ment program can be easily carried out on the herd.Points to consider for working facilities are locationand design of pens, gates, chutes, alleys and restraintequipment.LocationWorking facilities should be located in an areathat is near to the cattle and where several pasturesmeet. If the cattle operation is on several differentfarms or on a very large farm and spread out, thenadditional working areas should be considered. Theworking area should be located along fencelines socattle can be more easily driven into the pens. Theworking area should be located where trucks canreach the pens to deliver cattle and haul cattle out.The working area should be well drained anddesigned for expansion if needed.PensPens are needed to hold cattle for working. Themain points to consider with pens are the number ofpens, the size of the pens, the height of pen fences andthe arrangement of pens for sorting and holdingcattle. The number and size of pens should be relatedto herd size. Several small pens to hold the herd ingroups are more desirable than one big pen for thewhole herd. Cattle are more easily driven out of asmall rectangular pen than a large pen or pasture lot.Also, when the herd is sorted for various reasons,several small pens will be more workable than one ortwo large pens.68Pens need to hold cattle. Gentle or docile cattlecan be held with 41 2 to 5 foot high fences. Hard to work or excitable cattle may need fences 6 feet high tohold them.Pens should be arranged along a central alley orin a cluster so the herd can be sorted off into groupsand held as groups. One or more pens should have awater trough to serve as a holding pen, a hospital penor quarantine pen.GatesGates in the working facilities should bedesigned and installed with some of the followingpoints in mind. Gates should be of sturdy construc tion with anchor post set well into the ground to pre vent sagging and to handle heavy use. Gates shouldbe located in pen corners and along fencelines leadinginto the working facilities for ease of cattle movement.Gates should be hung so that they close behind cattleas they are moved into and through the working facil ities. Gates should be the same height as pen fences(41 2 to 5 feet for docile cattle, 6 feet for hard to workcattle). Alleys should be sized to the gates. If 12 footgates are used, then alleys should be 12 feet wide.With this arrangement, gates can be used to cross offalleys, or they can be swung completely around to letcattle pass the gate and go up the alley or down thealley. Gates and gate hinges should be designed andhung so that the gate will swing in the proper direc tion and swing far enough into the pen or alley so thatcattle can pass. Some extra gates can be built into thefacilities. These gates can go between pens to movecattle from pen to pen without using the alley. Someman gates (3 to 4 foot wide) can be added for peopleto enter the working area – especially near thesqueeze chute.Crowding PenThe crowding pen is set at the end of the alleyand is used to crowd cattle into the working chuteand onto the squeeze chute. Older designs use asquare or funnel shaped pen with a swing gate orseveral swing gates to crowd cattle into the workingchute. Newer designs use a circular shaped pen with

a swing gate to crowd the cattle. Circular pens takeadvantage of cattle’s tendency to move in circles whencrowded, and there are no corners for them to jam upin. The swing gate in the crowding pen should besolid (not open planks) and be designed to latch atseveral positions as it is closed down and cattle aremoved into the working chute. Besides the swing gatebeing solid, the crowding pen should have solid sides.Solid sides will prevent cattle from seeing out andbalking because of activities or movement around theworking area. Several companies manufacturecrowding pens and refer to then as sweep tubs.Bud BoxA Bud Box is a facility design that allows thehandler to be positioned correctly to facilitate cattleflow out of the box into either the crowd alley leadingto a chute or to a trailer load out. Always keep inmind that the box is a flow through part of the facility.Cattle should never be stored in the box waiting to besent into the crowd alley or to a trailer. Bring them inand let them flow back out immediately.Dimensions are important to the successful use ofa box but not as critical as handler position in relationto the stock leaving the box (Table 11 1). Withoutproper position and attention to detail, a box will onlyconfuse the stock and frustrate the handler.The box should be large enough to accommodatea volume of cattle to fill the crowd alley or fill a trailercompartment. A crowd alley to a squeeze chuteshould hold a minimum of 4 cows and might need tohold 20 head depending on the speed of processing.Crowd alleys on cow calf operations will typicallyhold 5 to 6 cows. Facilities working calves or yearlingsroutinely need crowd alleys for 12 to 20 head of cattle.TABLE 11 1. Bud Box Dimensions.HandlerWidthDepth*Always on foot12 feetMinimum 20 feetAlways horseback16 feetMaximum 30 feetAfoot and horseback14 feet*Dictated by size of groups handled20 to 30 feetWorking ChuteThe working chute is used to move cattle to thesqueeze chute in single file and in an orderly manner.Working chutes should be at least 18 to 20 feet long tohold several head of cattle in line for working. Severalblocking gates or back stops should be placed in theworking chute to control movement of cattle in thechute. Newer designs use a circular shape for thesame reasons as circular crowding pens are beingused. Solid walls in working chutes provide for easiermovement of cattle. The major problem with manyworking chutes is they are too wide. This allows somecattle to turn around which stops the orderly flowthrough the chute. Working chutes should be 18 to 28inches wide. The narrower widths (18 to 22 inches) aresuitable for operations that basically handle calves(weaners to 1,200 pounds). The wider widths (26 to 28inches) are for cow calf operations. Herds with verylarge cows and bulls may want to add another 2 or4 inches to their chute width. Smaller calves will turnaround in the wider chutes. In these wider chutes,placing plywood panels mounted on 2x4’s or 2x6’sinto the chute when working calves will make it nar rower and prevent turnarounds. Newer designs usesloped or V shaped sides. With sloped sides (16 inchesat ground level, 28 inches at 4 foot height), the prob lem of smaller animals turning around in the workingchute is eliminated. Some working chutes have beenbuilt with removable sections. These can be removedto get at downed animals in the working chute.As with crowding pens, several companiesmanufacture working chutes. These are available instraight and curved designs and can be purchasedwith solid sides or open pipe sides. Most workingchutes can be adjusted for width to suit the size cattlebeing worked.Squeeze Chute and HeadgatesThe squeeze chute and headgate are vital to theworking facilities because essentially all work done oncattle is done in the squeeze chute and headgate. Thesole purpose of the squeeze chute and headgate is torestrain the animal so that any desired managementpractice can be safely conducted on the animal. Safetyis essential for both cattle and operator.In designing working facilities, the squeeze chuteand headgate should not open into a pasture. Thesqueeze chute and headgate should be enclosed in apen. With this setup, a group of worked cattle can beturned out together or they can be moved back to aholding pen. More importantly, with an enclosedworking area, an animal that gets out of the squeezechute without being worked is not loose in the pas ture and can easily be maneuvered back to the chute.There are a number of manufactures that buildoutstanding squeeze chutes (Power River, PearsonLivestock Equipment, Priefert Manufacturing,W W Livestock Systems, etc.). Squeeze chutes(headgate) come with many options and features(manual, hydraulic, sizes, portable vs. stationary, etc.),69

and the best one depends upon personal preference.Money spent on a good squeeze chute and headgate isoften one of the best investments made in the cattleoperation.Before purchasing a squeeze chute and headgate,check with different manufacturers to determinedesign features, construction and any special features.In addition to checking with manufacturers, checkwith people in the area that have commercial equip ment. Find out what they like and dislike about theirequipment. Major design features to consider whenpurchasing a squeeze chute and headgate are thelatching system, protruding handles and levers,squeeze system, side exit, general or overall construc tion, options and headgate style. Many of today’ssqueeze chutes have convenient doors and latches toadminister animal health products according to BeefQuality Assurance Guidelines.When looking at a squeeze chute, check forprotruding handles and levers. All squeeze chutes andheadgates have one or more handles or levers that areneeded to operate the equipment. Handles and leversshould be placed and operated in a manner that willnot hit and possibly injure the operator or bystanders.Handles and levers that are most likely to cause prob lems are those that are located at head and shoulderheight and those subject to sudden movement. Aswith all equipment, learn how to properly operate thesqueeze chute and headgate. Some chutes place theheadgate controls on the front for a one man opera tion (Figure 11 1).Side exits are available on many squeeze chutemodels and can be quite useful. With proper arrange ment of fences and pens, a side exit can be used tosort or cut out cattle when they reach the squeezechute. In addition, the side exit can be used as anemergency exit or release on downed cattle in thesqueeze chute.There are options available with squeeze chutes.One option is a brisket bar that keeps cows fromkneeling and keeps cows standing (Figure 11 2).Almost all chutes have side panels that drop down(Figure 11 3) so feet and legs can be examined or bullscan be BSE tested. Some chutes even have blinders toprevent visual distraction allowing cattle to enter thechute without baulking (Figure 11 4).Oftentimes a palpation cage can be purchasedwith the squeeze chute. The palpation cageallows someone to step in behind the animal inthe squeeze chute. The palpation cage is basicallydesigned for pregnancy testing and artificial insemi nation work, but will serve well any time access to therear end of the animal is needed.70FIGURE 11 1. All controls are on the front of the chutefor one man operation.FIGURE 11 2. Brisket bar keeps cows from kneeling andkeeps cows standing.FIGURE 11 3. Lower panels can be removed to accessthe cattle’s feet and legs.

TABLE 11 2. Size and Space Requirements forCattle Working FacilitiesHolding area, sq ft/hdCrowding pen, sq ft/hdFIGURE 11 4. Flexible poly blinders to help funnel cattleinto the headgate by reducing visual distractions fromoutside the chute.For additional information on working facilities,contact your local county Extension office.Other Facility Design Considerations1.2.3.4.5.6.7.Enclose the squeeze chute and headgate area in apen. If an animal is missed or accidentally getsout of the headgate, it is still confined to theworking area and can be put back through thechute. If the headgate opens out into a pasture,then the animal is missed.Provide solid footing in the squeeze chute andheadgate area. The next most important area forsolid footing is the crowding pen.A shed built over the squeeze chute and extend ing back over the working chute enables thecattleman to work cattle under adverse weatherconditions. The shed should be high enough forslide up gates to clear and for people to clearrafters if they are on a catwalk or climbing overthe chutes.Consider running an electric line and possiblywater lines into the facilities. This provides powerfor lights and other equipment that may beneeded while working cattle.A catwalk built alongside the working chute helpsmove cattle through that chute.A set of scales built into the working chute can beuseful for performance work or monitoring calfgains in stocker operations.Loading chutes for many operations have goneby the wayside since bumper and gooseneck typetrailers have become common farm equipment.With these trailers, cattle can be loaded throughthe working chute. Unloading involves backinginto a pen and opening the back gate. Forsome large operators, plans are available forloading chutes.Working chute, straightsidesWidthLength (min)Working chute, slopedsidesWidth, inside bottomWidth, inside at 4’heightLength (min)Working chute fencePostsDepth in ground1Clearance aboveground for cross beamsFenceHeight, solid wallTop rail, gentle cattleTop rail, hard to workand wild cattleCorral fencePostsDepth in ground1Height abovegroundGentle cattleLarge cattle, wildcattleLoading chuteWidthLengthRise in/ft (max)Ramp heightTrailerPickupLarge truckTractor trailerCow Calfand CattleCalves to Calves 600 Over600 lbs1,200 lbs1,200 5”16”36” 48”36” 48”36” 48”7’7’7’54” 60”54” 60”54” 60”60”60”60”36” 48”36” 48”36” 48”60”60”60”26”12’3 1/2”26” 30”12’3 1/2”20”20’60” 72”60” 72”26”12’3 1/2”24”20’60” 72”60” 72”28”20’72”72”15”28”40”48”1 Chute and corral post depth will depend on the soil’s ability tohold posts. Posts need to hold tight under heavy use. Postsset in concrete will be more stable.71

Feeding EquipmentFeeding equipment for cow calf and stockeroperators will be fairly simple. For feeding hay, manyproducers have gone to round bales which should befed in a bale feeder to minimize hay losses. Balefeeders and hay rings are fairly inexpensive, and somevery good ones are homemade. Some companies havehay feeding systems that involve bale unrollers, haywagons, tub grinders, etc., that may be suitable forsome farm management programs.With most farms using round bales, someconsideration must be given to hay storage. Roundbales and stacks stored outside should be in a well drained area and placed so they do not touch eachother. Hay quality can be better maintained if roundbales are stored under cover. A pole barn providesexcellent protection for round bales. Pole barns shouldbe built high enough so round bales can be stackedseveral high and be easily moved about. Be carefulnot to exceed the ability of your equipment to stackround bales in a barn. The cost of the pole barn canprobably be justified over the long run by limiting theamount of hay that is wasted or lost to weathering.Feed troughs should be part of the feedequipment on most cattle operations. The main use offeed troughs is feeding grain and protein supplementsto cattle. Certain times of the year stocker operatorshave to feed supplemental rations. Growing heifersand bulls need some supplemental feed, and this isbest fed in a trough. Troughs can be homemade orpurchased. Some self feeders are on the market thathandle several tons of bulk feed and a large numberof cattle at one time.72Mineral feeders are needed. There are goodmanufactured and homemade mineral feeders onfarms. Mineral feeders can be portable or stationary.These feeders should be sturdy and covered to protectmineral supplements from the elements. Plan on hav ing enough mineral feeders so that all pastures withcattle have a feeder.Feed bins are an item not often seen on manycattle operations. The use of feed bins and purchasingsome feeds or supplements in bulk (not sacked)should be investigated by many cattlemen.Purchasing in bulk or in larger quantities (1 ton,3 tons, truckload, etc.) can yield big savings on thefeed bill.

pens, the size of the pens, the height of pen fences and the arrangement of pens for sorting and holding . Newer designs use a circular shape for the same reasons as circular crowding pens are being used. Solid walls in working chutes provide for easier movement of cattle. The major problem with many . Chut. e a. nd Headgates. The squeeze .

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