Moving your herd around can be a time consuming and dangerous affair. It can also be costly if you have to hire in help.
However, with the right facilities and systems you can reap the rewards.
Dehorning, castration and vaccinations (Or attaching a Moocall calving sensor or Moocall HEAT collar) would be a lot easier to perform when cattle are restrained correctly.
For farmers with a small or medium sized herd, building a well-designed handling facility could be costly initially.
However, in the long run it can prove cheaper, by allowing producers to work alone, thus reducing labour requirements.
A well thought out handling system will also allow easier movement and flow of animals, so less time will be spent chasing rebellious cattle into pens.
Here are a few ways to reduce the time cost and stress of moving cattle.
1: Avoid Straight lines & corners; use curves and angles
Cattle often perceive 90° corners as dead ends, and this can hold up the cattle flow. Sharp corners can lead to injuries and bruising.
One way to adjust your system to remedy this is by introducing angles and curves to free up cattle flow.
Curves works better because the animal thinks they are going back to where they came from.
2: Solid, high sides in the chute
Having a chute with solid, high sides removes any distractions, and can relax the animal. If they see people or equipment they could hesitate.
This is another place where a curved chute can come in handy as they can’t see that far ahead.
3: Move them into light
Because livestock tend to move from a darker area into a brightly lit area, it is important that the path for them is well lit; otherwise they could hesitate and stop.
While it is important to illuminate the chute with light, it should never be glaring into the eyes of oncoming animals.
When you light the way, light it right. If there are shadows along the way it could lead animals to stop, hesitate and refuse to move.
4: No drains or gutters crossing their path
Drains shouldn’t cross the cow’s path because they may refuse to step over it. Instead, they should be rerouted outside the areas where they walk, or underneath where they can’t be seen.
5: Remove flapping objects
Flapping objects like a coat hung on a fence will make your animals hesitate, so remove them before moving your herd.
6: Silence is golden
Soundproof the chute as best you can. Animals are more susceptible to noise than humans are and the loud clang of metal gates can stress and frighten them.
Rubber stops on gates can stop them clanging. Keep them well oiled.
7: Well surfaced floors
Any floors you put on your farm need to have a safe ground surface to reduce injury risk in you and your animals.
5% of all stock bulls have arthritis and are more susceptible to lameness. This can be a leading factor in bull infertility and failure to conceive.
An angle of 4° is ideal to allow for run-off and reduce the risk of slippage.
What things do you take into consideration when designing your cattle movement system? Tell us in the comments below! Subscribe for more.