In this video you can view some of the facility as Lynn describes important design features in his facility.
Lynn Johnson, a Polk County beef farmer and grazing planner for the NW Wisconsin Graziers Network, recently hosted a cattle-handling demonstration and pasture walk on his farm north of Range, near Turtle Lake, WI. At the pasture walk he discussed how a practical cattle-handing facility can be constructed at low cost while still allowing him to do important management practices with his beef herd.
Cost of constructing a handling facility can often seem prohibitive, especially for the small producer. One can easily overspend on deluxe versions when used materials and a few innovations would be sufficient. Practical designs for facilities are available from your Extension office and publications and information can be found on WBIC.
Practices possible with a well-designed beef-handling facilities include (1) visible animal identification (e.g. ear tags) (2) body weight measurements, (3) vaccinations, (4) AI synchronization protocols, (5) AI services, (6) pregnancy testing, (7) pour-on treatments such as deworming, fly control and other parasites, (8) medical exams and treatments, (9) calving assistance, (10) weaning, (11) implants, (12) culling and sorting, (13) sorting of management groups, (14) loading trailers, and (15) quarantine of new animals. Safety for the producer and the animals is also an important consideration. It doesn’t take many trips to the hospital emergency room to exceed the cost of a safe cattle handling facility.
The selection of the site for the handling facility needs to be planned carefully. It needs to be accessible for easy loading of cattle by trailer. It must be strategically connected to fields and lanes. There should be access to water, feed and electricity. The area should be well drained and have good surface materials. Protection from weather or access to shelter and supplies are important considerations also.
The design of the facility should enable the operator to entice rather than force animals to move thru it. Understand that animals usually want to escape, and will move toward their herd mates, feed or water. Animals will have less fear and improved disposition with proper handling. Alleys should be narrow, so animals can’t run around you. The squeeze chute should be curved, so that animals think that they are returning from where they came, as circular movements are natural for cattle. The facility should be designed to minimize distractions and eliminate potential injury points.