Livestock

How far cattle squeeze chutes have come, and why some manufacturers don’t want you to know about it

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Have you ever wondered why some cattle squeeze chute manufacturers are slow to the uptake when their equipment needs improvement? To be innovative and create new products is a timely and costly investment, and to be frank, some manufacturers simply do not care about it. Unfortunately for cattle producers, many manufacturers believe that the equipment they crafted more than 17 years ago, such as the S04, and even longer for other manufacturers, is “good enough,” and that there is no need to invest the time and money in finding ways to improve their existing lineup.

However, cattle ranching in the 21st century is very different than it was when your granddad was running the ranch. Today, cattle producers have less time, less help, and more cattle to manage. When you’re working a 9-5 on top of running a busy ranching operation, you simply don’t have time to put up with equipment that takes all day to process a batch of cattle or is constantly breaking down and requiring you to fix it. You deserve equipment that will make your life easier and keep you, your family and your ranch hands safe while working cattle through your handling system efficiently, so that you can have more time to spend on the other things that matter to you.

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Image by Kari Steinbrecher

New innovations in cattle squeeze chutes and equipment can help you take the efficiency of your operation to the next level with faster, safer processing. Cattle squeeze chutes specifically have come a long way in recent years, and here are some of the things that you need to know (that no one else will tell you):

1. Working cattle doesn’t have to be hard.

The belief that cattle handling will always be a difficult chore is hands down the most common and toxic myth that is circulating in the cattle industry, and it is largely driven by the makers of the “blue” chute. Yes, cattle are animals and can be incredibly stubborn, but there is a better and easier way to work your livestock than twisting tails and breaking your back all day.

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Image by Kari Steinbrecher

Cattle can be rowdy enough without provocation, and there is no reason why your cattle squeeze chute or handling equipment should make that worse. There are new options available that adhere to the recommended animal science and low-stress cattle handling guidelines to keep cattle more docile during processing. This not only makes your cattle easier to work but keeps you and those assisting you safe while working them.

2. Self-catch cattle head gates are a problem, not a solution.

One of the biggest issues with working cattle through the cattle squeeze chute is balking and poor flow when transitioning from the alley to the chute. Learning Stockmanship and point of balance cattle handling techniques can help, but if you are working with a self-catch head gate, you are playing into your own demise. Cattle who are worked through a self-catch head gate experience extreme stress when they hit the head gate, resulting in a traumatic experience that will make them more difficult to work through that chute in the future. In addition, poorly crafted manual head gates that do not close quickly enough, or require extra bodies to work the chute, are a point of frustration for cattle producers.

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Image by Alex Templeton

A well-designed manual cattle head gate on your squeeze chute can change the game for cattle and their handlers, making it easier than ever to work cattle through the chute. Key factors to look for in a properly designed cattle head gate include a handle that can be operated from any point along the side of the chute, curtain-style doors to prevent an animal from choking if they go down in the chute, and one that can work for cattle of any size without requiring adjustments.

3. Cattle love light, not shadows.

Cattle want to go toward spaces where they believe they can escape, and light is a key factor in giving them that impression. That is why blinders on the sides of your cattle chute and a fully sheeted head gate can be problematic, as these cast shadows that can cause cattle to balk and be reluctant to enter the chute.

Look for a chute that uses light to get cattle to move in the right direction. Arrowquip has recently introduced a new, patented concept called the 3E: Easy Entry and Exit System, which uses light to draw cattle through the chute. Using light strategically can dramatically impact the flow of cattle through your system, as they believe they are escaping rather than entering an enclosed space. This concept significantly impacts the way cattle flow out of the alley, and prevents problematic stops that typically occur at the chute transition.

4. One-size fits all is an option!

Fitting cattle of all sizes in one piece of equipment is a challenge with most options available on the market, and cow-calf operations know this struggle all too well. This means you need to invest in multiple pieces of equipment — a calf table for branding and castrating, a chute for regular processing, and occasionally renting the vet’s chute to treat your bulls and the large mamas in the crowd. Not only is this investment unnecessary, it is costly and mentally taxing to constantly have to worry about maintaining multiple pieces of equipment, and remembering to rent the vet’s chute when you need it.

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Image courtesy of Brandon and Julie Dewbre

There are new chutes available that come with an enhanced width to accommodate the largest animals in your herd, while also providing the flexibility to brand and castrate your newest calves. This simplifies your operation by giving you one main piece of equipment to use and keep properly maintained, making it easier to keep everything working just like it should be.

When it comes to cattle handling equipment, one manufacturer stands above the rest with crafting innovative cattle squeeze chute and corral systems that fit the needs of the 21st century rancher, and that is Arrowquip. They are constantly listening to the needs of cattle producers across North America, and providing them with solutions that fit their needs better than what is currently available. A prime example of this is the new Q-Catch 54 Series squeeze chute that is designed for the smaller, up-and-coming rancher, providing Arrowquip quality at a price point any operation can justify.

For more information or to view their full product lineup, visit arrowquip.com/cattle-equipment or contact their team at 1-866-383-7827.

 

This article was published on behalf of Arrowquip.

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