“It is crucial ranchers keep their equipment in good shape. Not only will this protect the investment they have made in the equipment, but more importantly it will protect their herd and their person,” says Courtney M. Dyer, assistant director of sales and marketing, Priefert Ranch Equipment.

Scherer robyn
Freelance Writer
Robyn Scherer-Carlson is a freelance writer based in Colorado.

Equipment that has broken down, become damaged or is in poor shape can injure animals as well as producers.

“Equipment that is compromised may not function properly and can lead to injuries to the cattle being worked through the equipment and, perhaps worse, injuries to the persons working the equipment,” Dyer says.

She adds, “Additionally, compromised equipment that has become difficult to work leads to a higher-stress working environment for the cattle, which studies have shown can lead to reduced gains and ultimately a lower price at market.”

Practicing good management can be crucial to the survivability and profitability of a herd, and without the properly maintained equipment, this may be compromised.


Dyer explains, “If a rancher’s equipment is in poor shape or is difficult to work, it typically means that the rancher is less inclined to want to work cattle through it, leading many ranchers to compromise on their management practices.”

There are many elements that can contribute to equipment breakdown, including sun, sand, wind and general wear and tear. “I am sure it varies by area, but here [in Texas] it is the sun.

Anything rubber or plastic will deteriorate fairly quickly when left in the sunlight,” says Ron Gill, professor & extension livestock specialist, Texas A&M University. “Paint will fade and all rubber seals will dry out and start cracking over time.”

The biggest factor in the longevity of equipment is the finish on the equipment. “Livestock-handling equipment is subject to a very harsh environment.

Often, this equipment is not under a roof, so it is subject to the fading effects of sunlight, the corrosive effects of animal urine and the destructive effects of moisture.

If the finish on the equipment is not specifically designed to combat these effects, then you begin to see the equipment begin to break down, often in a short amount of time,” states Dyer.

She continues, “Given the total investment in this type of equipment, selecting equipment without the right finish can be a costly mistake.

So much so, that it is often worth a slightly larger initial investment in properly finished equipment to reduce your long-term repair and replacement costs, which can often be as expensive as your initial investment.”

There are a variety of different finishes available that will help to protect equipment, including paint, powder coating and galvanized. “Each of these finishes can be effective in protecting your equipment against the elements.

The key to this protection is the quality of each finish; there are varying qualities of paint and powder coat especially,” she says.

Every step in the production process matters in the final quality. “Everything from the surface prep before paint or powder to the paint or powder itself will affect the long-term quality and protective capabilities of the finish.

It’s important for ranchers to research this quality and be familiar with the options available. Two layers of protection are always better than one, so ranchers should also look for equipment that features paint or powder coat over galvanized metal,” Dyer suggests.

Once equipment is purchased, there are a couple of other steps ranchers can take to protect their equipment from damage. Equipment that is costly and crucial to the ranch should be protected from the elements, such as storing in a barn or shed.

Hydraulic chutes should be housed indoors if possible, and anything electrical should be placed where water will not pool.

Equipment that is plastic or rubber should be kept out of the sun. “Protect it from the sun through either natural or man-made shade,” says Gill.

Equipment kept outdoors should be inspected on a regular basis. “Other key steps ranchers should employ to protect their equipment include good inspection and maintenance practices.

Keeping equipment clean and serviced will not only extend the life of the equipment but will also ensure that the rancher is alerted to potential problems with his equipment as soon as they arise.

If a rancher spots rust on a piece of equipment, it should be treated and touched up as soon as it’s found to reduce and limit the destructive effects of the corrosion,” Dyer says.

Panels found to be damaged should be replaced before cattle are worked to decrease the incidence of accidents and injuries. All equipment should be thoroughly checked before it is used, and any issues addressed immediately.

The biggest factor in keeping equipment in good shape begins with the purchase. “The most important step ranchers can take to protect their equipment from the elements is to begin with quality equipment that features a finish designed to handle the environmental factors that lead to equipment breakdown.

While this often represents a larger initial equipment cost when purchasing equipment, in the long term it will save the rancher time, labor and money in reduced repair and replacement costs,” says Dyer.  end mark

Robyn Scherer is a freelance writer based in Colorado.

Photo by Paul Marchant.