Working facility areas and corrals in cattle handling are meant to improve the labor efficiency on your farm and for performing routine health functions. There are different constituents of a cattle handling facility that is optimally designed and working as it should.
These include the working, loading and squeeze chutes, holding and crowding pens and scales. The pens are designed to hold your cattle and direct them to an appropriate area.
The pens in your cattle yards will have a headgate or a squeeze chute to control the flow of animals into an area and reduce the risk of injuries to the cattle or personnel handling them. The squeeze chute is often used on large cattle ranches and should have a tailgate for your cattle to see through.
On small ranches or in operations involving a small herd, there are different types of headgates used for this purpose since these are economical. Here are some tidbits to assist you in making the right choice from the available headgates for your ranch.
Scissors Stanchion Headgate
This comprises two biparting halves that pivot at their bottom and release to allow animals to walk through them. There are two types of scissors stanchion headgates including straight and curved bar types.
The curved bar headgate is the more popular of the two since it has optimal head control as the animal will not slide its head up and down and thus choke. It is generally used on ranches and feedlots.
The straight bar stanchion one is used for controlling gentle dairy cows and in veterinary clinics where cattle will remain in headgates for prolonged periods.
Full Opening Stanchion Headgate
This has biparting doors that close and open much like sliding doors. Full opening stanchion headgates are available in curved and straight bar models. Large bulls will pass through these doors more easily than they would in scissor stanchion headgates though their sliding mechanism is complicated.
These are easy to operate, will seldom choke your cattle when they are securely attached and allow the rapid movement of your animals with minimal risk of balking. The headgates also come with manual controls that you can use to increase their reliability.
Unfortunately, self-catching headgates are not suitable for holding horned cattle since they can cause shoulder bruises on them if they lunge at them when cocked. They also at times allow the escape of an animal.
These hold an animal’s head securely and have minimal risk of bruising its shoulders. They are however quite tricky to operate and might choke your animal.
Moreover, animals in pens with guillotine headgates can easily balk and will not move forward freely. To this end, work might be slowed down when working with these headgates.
When buying the headgates for your pen, pay attention to the controls and levers used in your option. This allows you to assess their ease of operation and their suitability for your ranch.
Other than the right headgate from the ones above have a rough concrete floor for your pens since these are easy to clean. Moreover, they have better traction and minimal risk of slips when covered by water and animal droppings.