This Cattle Chute Guide will help you narrow down your needs and ask the right questions during the purchase process
The cattle industry is filled with myths about what makes a good squeeze chute, but did you know that a lot of the “information” you can find out there is hearsay? That is why it is so important to do your research, get your information from trusted sources, and fact-check the tips you get with the leading cattle handling experts.
If you’re still not sure where to start, we’ve put together this Cattle Chute Shopping Guide to help you navigate the process, and find the best option for your ranch.
SET YOUR BUDGET
While this may sound obvious, setting your budget is an important first step in the process that takes a little more consideration than you think! If you haven’t purchased a squeeze chute in a while, you should do your research to figure out what you can expect to pay for a new model.
Prices can vary greatly depending on features, manual or hydraulic operation, and any desired add-ons. Doing your research will allow you to set a budget you are comfortable with, and that is realistic to be able to get the type of chute you want. If your budget is tight, consider applying for financing or looking into farm equipment grants available in your area to get the equipment you need to do the job right.
ASK FOR RECOMMENDATIONS
Talk to your friends and family who are ranchers and ask them what they like and dislike about the equipment they are working with.
Not sure what to ask? Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Are there any things they wish they could change about their chute?
- Have they ever had to contact the manufacturer for Customer Service issues? If so, how was the problem handled? Was the problem resolved?
- How has the equipment held up over time? Does their chute require a lot of maintenance to keep it working smoothly?
- If they could go back to the day they purchased it, would they make the same decision or choose a different model and/or manufacturer?
VISIT YOUR LOCAL CATTLE EQUIPMENT DEALER
Trade shows may be off the table right now, but you can still take a trip to your local dealer to check out the equipment in person. Getting your hands on the equipment and testing it out for yourself can make all the difference in your decision. Try out all the levers and handles, and make sure that you can move everything with ease. If you can’t work the chute without cattle in it, it is going to be nearly impossible once you have livestock inside the chute.
If an in-person visit isn’t in the cards, you can find product videos on YouTube to help you get an idea of what different models offer, which will help you determine what model and features you want.
THINK ABOUT YOUR DAY-TO-DAY TASKS, AND THE RARE ONES, TOO
Needle access for quick vaccinations might be an obvious need, but what other tasks do you need your chute to handle? Think about the jobs you may not do every time you work cattle, but require special restraints or capability when they are necessary, such as trimming or banding. Research is key here, as is taking the time to figure out what manufacturers offer features that are tailored to these specific tasks, and what models they are available on.
WHAT ARE YOUR PAIN POINTS?
What are your biggest struggles? Do your cattle want to escape the chute because they have been trained to use a side exit (Hint: There’s a better way!)? Or do you have tiny calves that get turned around in the vet cage because it doesn’t squeeze? Whatever your issues are, making note of the ones you want to solve will guide your decision-making process.
MYTH – All lower priced chutes come with a single-sided squeeze, or one that requires adjustments to handle cattle of different sizes.
FACT – Not all chutes are built the same! There are lower-priced options, such as the Q-Catch 74 Series, that offer a full parallel squeeze at a price point that anyone can obtain. Starting at just $4,250*.
MYTH – Your vet cage doesn’t need to squeeze with the chute.
FACT – Cattle are tricky creatures that find ways to turn around in the craziest places. If you are going to have a vet cage on your chute, look for one that squeezes along with it. You will be glad you did.
MYTH – Hydraulic chutes come with a big price tag.
FACT – Not all hydraulic models have to be expensive! The Q-Power 104 Series comes with a 110V motor and has the power you need to get the job done without an unachievable price tag.
MYTH – Sorting cattle using the side exit is an efficient process.
FACT – Not only is this more dangerous than post-chute sorting, sorting cattle out the side exit can make them resistant to enter the chute at all because they believe they should be able to escape.
MYTH – Self-catch head gates are the best for one-man operation.
FACT – Cattle remember how they feel when they are in stressful situations. Self-catch head gates can cause a lot of stress for livestock, as they must hit the head gate hard to get it to close around their neck. Once they have done this a few times, cattle may become reluctant to enter the chute, requiring more work on the part of the handler to get them secured in the head gate.
CATTLE CHUTE BUYER’S CHECKLIST
1. Check your budget.
- Ideal $
- Max $
2. Find your top 3 contenders.
3. What are your must-have features? (The ones you can’t live without!)
4. What are your nice-to-have features? (The ones that aren’t a NEED, but would make your life easier!)
5. What are the problems you want to eliminate?
Taking time to consider your options when buying a new chute for the ranch is important, as it is a big investment that needs to serve you for years to come! Still not sure? Download the Chute Buyer’s Guide to help you narrow down your options and find the best one for you!
*MSRP prices listed in USD without add-ons as of June, 2020. Contact Arrowquip or your Local Dealer for actual price.
This article was published on behalf of Arrowquip.