As a cattle producer, you understand your cattle from their body language to their behaviors and personalities. You also understand the equipment you use to work them, whether it’s how to adjust the squeeze chute, or using low-stress equipment that works with animal science. If you’re upgrading your current equipment or simply looking for something new, investing in a manual squeeze chute can benefit you by reducing the risk of injury to the animal and operator.
With an array of options on the market, making the correct purchase can be overwhelming, especially if you’re unsure what to look for. Before you decide, learn the advantages of using a manual chute, consider often-overlooked factors and understand why choosing the correct chute is critical for your operation’s success.
Advantages of Manual Cattle Chutes
Manual chutes offer several operational advantages including:
Improved Safety: Each animal has a unique personality and behavior. No matter how experienced you are, manual chutes are designed to keep the animal calm and restrained during procedures like vaccinations, branding or hoof trimming.
Better Handling: Manual chutes can reduce the need for additional labor or equipment, saving you time and money. When looking into getting a chute or making an upgrade, also be sure to look for one that is built for true one-person operation. Also watch for other helpful features, including handles that allow for the chute to be operated from the rear or front or a wide opening head gate to allow for larger cattle.
Consider a Manual Catch Head Gate: Will you go with a manual catch head gate or a self-catch? Each type comes with some considerations. With a manual catch, cattle don’t have to run against the head gate to close it. Over time, this can greatly reduce chute shyness and lessen the chances of bruising, which can lead to higher profit for you at sale time.
Health Benefits: Reducing stress on the animal allows for easier and more efficient handling, which can result in positive effects on overall health. Some manual chutes also allow for precise application of medication or treatments with conveniently placed access doors, which increases each procedure’s effectiveness.
Versatility: Manual chutes can be used for a variety of tasks to streamline your operation. Also consider add-ons like head restraints or vet cages to make tasks like pregnancy checks even easier in combination with the right manual chute.
When you’re about to decide on a chute, try to think about commonly overlooked factors including:
Size: The size and breed of your livestock and number of head you have should factor into the chute you decide to purchase.
Quality: Overlooking quality to reduce costs when purchasing your squeeze chute can result in higher maintenance and replacement costs in the long term. Look for chutes that are made with heavy-duty steel and high-quality welding that are also backed by 24/7 customer service and have a warranty.
Design: When purchasing a chute, you should always keep the design in mind. Manual cattle chutes should be designed with easy, safe and efficient cattle handling in mind.
Maintenance: Ranching is an around-the-clock job, so considering the upkeep and ease of maintenance is important. After you have purchased the cattle chute, ensure you are performing routine maintenance when needed.
Safety features: Safety in your cattle chute should always be top priority. Secure locking mechanisms and escape routes for animals in case of emergency are common safety features you should look for when purchasing a new chute.
Why Choosing The ‘Right’ Chute Is Important
Finding the right chute is important for a variety of reasons, but many of them circle back to safety, efficiency and the bottom line. Choosing the right chute helps to improve:
Animal Welfare: Since it is such an important piece of livestock equipment on your operation, the right cattle squeeze chute should be safe and designed with the well-being of your livestock in mind.
Worker Safety: Providing a safe and controlled environment for handling animals also helps reduce the risk of injury to ranchers.
Efficiency: Time (and labor) is money, and the right chute can improve the efficiency of your ranch by reducing the time and labor associated with handling and treating animals, which eliminates downtime, giving you more time for other tasks and helps better your bottom line.
Precision: Administering medications and treatments with precision and accuracy is paramount to animal health, and the right manual chute can improve the effectiveness of these procedures.
Investment: A manual chute is a significant investment upfront, but will save you time and money down the road.
When considering your cattle equipment, it is also important to consider the company you work with. Finding a company that stands behind their products and believes in safe handling equipment will make all the difference. Keep in mind these factors when purchasing manual chutes to ensure you are making a wise investment that will improve the efficiency of your operation and make sure it lasts for generations to come.