Not all cattle chutes are made equal: The challenges of cheap cattle handling


Is your cattle chute making life a challenge? Many of the options available to ranchers make big promises about improving your operation with efficiency and innovation, but few live up to those promises once they are installed on the ranch.

In a time when help of any kind is hard to find and experienced help is basically unheard of, safety and efficiency are of the utmost importance on ranches across the country. Ranch injuries are on the rise, and it is imperative that ranchers choose equipment designed to keep everyone involved safe while completing tasks efficiently. Too often inexpensive cattle equipment fails on all fronts, leading to dangerous chute-side experiences for handlers. All it takes is one lawsuit to bankrupt an operation.

We’ve explored the cost of cheap equipment previously, but it goes beyond the price tag. Not all cattle equipment is made equal, and there are a number of key pieces you need to consider that have nothing to do with the price. What are the important elements of a cattle chute you need to consider at any price point to truly make your ranch safer and more efficient? Let’s break it down.


1. Access is essential, but not all chutes are up to the tasks you need to complete.

Access is arguably the most important part of any squeeze chute. If you cannot access your animals properly, you will not be able to complete the tasks you need to do efficiently. You should be able to access both sides of the animal equally, so you can perform any task when you need to. This makes life easier when you have multiple people working cattle at the same time, as you can set up one person on each side of the chute to fly through your processing tasks.

Three questions to ask when making a list of access points:

  • What are the tasks you complete every time you work your cattle?
  • What are the rare tasks you do that require special access?
  • Do you preg check or AI your cattle?

2. Adjustments are a pain … so why should you make them at all?

This may sound counterintuitive, but adjustments to your cattle chute aren’t really necessary. There are models of cattle chutes that can work with cattle of all sizes without a single adjustment, thanks to infinite locking mechanism and floating squeeze technology. Your back will thank you at the end of the day!

These are the questions to ask yourself when thinking about adjustments and squeeze settings:

  • Are there secondary levers or locks required for adjustments?
  • Will this be difficult to do when the chute is full of muck and grime?
  • What is the smallest size calf you will need to run?
  • What is the largest cow or bull you will run?
  • Will you ever run mixed batches of cattle?


3. Speaking of your back … be wary of repetitive motion injuries.

You don’t often hear about repetitive motion injuries relating to farmers because they take longer to set in. You are doing different tasks every day, but many of those tasks are repeated time after time, year after year, leading to injuries that flare up seemly out of nowhere. Look for equipment that is designed to be ergonomically friendly to minimize the risk of injury down the road.

4. Emergency exits should be for emergencies and extra access, not sorting.

A common myth in the cattle industry is that a side exit is essential for sorting cattle. This is not only a dangerous way to allow your cattle to exit the chute, but can create bad habits and even train your cattle to refuse to enter the head gate! It’s best to nip this in the bud before it becomes an issue by using a Post-Chute Draft Module that enables you to sort cattle off after they’ve been processed.


5. Time is money.

In this case, it really is more than just a common phrase. More and more, ranchers are doing double duty — with their 9-5 during the week and running cattle in the evenings or on the weekends. This is precious time that could otherwise be spent with your family, and anything that can make processing your cattle a faster and easier process can pay off tenfold in quality time with those closest to you.

When it comes to choosing a cattle chute, it ultimately comes down to personal preference and finding the option that will work best for the needs of your operation. If you need some guidance in determining the right solution for your needs, download the Cattle Chute Buyer’s Guide to help you find the right cattle chute for your ranch.

New innovations in the industry mean that ranchers no longer have to settle for equipment that doesn’t do the job right, no matter what your price point is. Processing cattle is stressful enough without having to worry about unreliable, dangerous equipment causing damage and eating away at your bottom line! Arrowquip offers a full lineup of cattle handling equipment, from Custom Cattle Handling Systems to Cattle Tubs, Alleys, and Squeeze Chutes that are engineered for ease of use for handlers, and a low-stress experience for cattle. The Q-Catch 74 Series Squeeze Chute starts at just $4,250 MSRP, making it easy for any operation to avoid the blues that can come with a poorly crafted cattle chute.

Visit or give them a call at 1-866-383-7827 to learn more.


This article was published on behalf of Arrowquip.

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