Beef producers should consider constructing or remodeling cattle handling facilities during the winter months, said Clyde Lane, a professor of animal science with University of Tennessee Extension. “Adequate handling facilities will make performing recommended management practices easier and safer for both the animal and the producer,” the beef cattle expert said.
Lane added that producers should be more concerned about the functionality of their facility than how it looks. “Paint makes a facility look good but it does not improve the way cattle move through a facility.” he said.
One of the most important changes that a producer can make is to make the chute more narrow, Lane said. “Most chutes are wider than recommended. Chute should be a maximum of 26 inches wide for cow-calf operations and 22 inches wide for stocker or backgrounding operations.” he said.
“A chute that is too wide allows the animals to turn around, which poses serious safety concerns,” Lane warned. “If the chute is too wide, reduce its width,” he said.
Producers are reminded that the facility should be constructed of metal or wood that can withstand the pressure applied by an animal being restrained. Sawmill-run oak lumber has been successfully used by many producers to construct everything except the headgate, Lane said. “This works well where the chute and corral pens are inside a barn or shed,” he said.
Producers should take advantage of the slack time in the winter to get their cattle handling facilities constructed. This will insure that the facility is ready for spring operations.
For additional information on cattle handling facilities and other topics related to beef cattle production, contact your county UT Extension agent. For more information, contact Clyde Lane at email@example.com.