1) Make sure your alleyway is the proper width so that cattle can’t turn around.
• Kornmann points out that when cattle keep moving forward in the right direction, it keeps things running smoothly and on time. Having good time management saves you money if you’re paying the vet or your help by the hour.
2) Have your working facilities set up in a well lit area.
• Kornmann and Schulte both comment on how important lighting is while you’re working cattle. Cattle work and move a lot better when they can see more clearly. They also hate shadows. If they can’t see where they’re going, they get more nervous and are harder to work.
3) Don’t have any areas where the animals may have to jump up or down.
• Schulte comments on the fact that cattle don’t have any depth of field vision. They can’t perceive how far they would have to jump for the smallest of holes. Prevent them from being nervous by keeping the equipment and ground level with each other.
4) Check the ground/floor for adequate traction outside the alleyway and chute.
• Both Kornmann and Schulte agree that you need to make sure there is solid footing alongside the working area to make sure that no one slips and falls while running the cattle through. Working cattle is fast-paced enough – this would be one less thing you would have to worry about.
5) Get rid of sharp edges.
• Kornmann and Schulte both recommend walking around the entire area and checking for sharp objects. The last thing you want to do is injure your cattle while you’re working them.
6) Have some extra corral gates close by.
• Schulte points out that having extra corral gates is never a bad thing. You never know when you will need an extra area to block or to help push the cattle along.
7) Have water near.
• Whether this be the hydrant or just a jug of water from your home, having water while you’re working cattle is always good. Kornmann says that you never know when you’re going to need to clean some tools, use it to clean an infected area on animal or just to simply wash your hands.
8) Ground has adequate traction for the cattle.
• Just like you, the cattle move a lot better on solid ground. Kornmann says to put some rock down if your facilities are outside and it just rained, or haul the manure before you move cattle in.
9) Double-check your lock mechanisms.
• Schulte comments on the lock mechanisms of the chute. They do wear out, so it’s good practice to double-check them before cattle start running through.
10) Oil up the entire working area.
• Get things moving smoothly and comfortably by oiling all the hinges and bolts. It also helps keep the equipment from squeaking. Schulte says this is probably one of the most important things to do on your working equipment. Just like your farm machinery, it just needs a little TLC since the last time it was used.
Some of these things may sound tedious, but remember that it’s to help make your entire day run smoothly and efficiently. An hour of prep time could save you hours of time running those cattle through.
PHOTO: Before working your cattle, give your facilities a good scan to make sure everything is working and set up correctly. Staff photo.
- Freelance Writer
- Oxford Junction, Iowa
- Email Kellie Gregorich