Evaluate Your Beef Cattle Handling Facilities

By Clyde Lane, Jr., Professor – Animal Science; Richard Powell , Program Leader – Western Region; Brian White, Area Livestock Agent – Western Region, and Steve Glass, County Director – Decatur County and published by University of Tennessee
calendar icon 25 May 2007
clock icon 4 minute read

One of the keys to maximizing returns from a commercial cow-calf enterprise is the timely application of basic management practices. Many of these practices require that the cattle be worked several times a year. Without adequate cattle-handling facilities, these practices are either delayed or completely neglected.

Producers desiring to upgrade current facilities or construct or purchase new facilities may apply for a cost-share through the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program administered by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. Premise identi. cation and Beef Quality Assurance certi. cation are prerequisites for applying for the funds. Approval of the request must be received before items are purchased.

Some of the practices that require handling facilities for animal restraint include castration, dehorning, deworming, implanting, grub treatment, lice treatment, vaccinations, pregnancy checking, arti. cial insemination, application of fly tags and first aid. The result of failing to carry out these basic, economically essential cattle management practices is reduced production ef. ciency and reduced . nancial return to the cattle enterprise.

An efficient cattle-handling facility includes several critical factors. Below is a group of questions about items that contribute to an ef. cient beef cattle-handling system. Read and answer the questions to evaluate your system. Following each question is a value for each reply. Record the score on the line to the right of each question.

Availability of Facilities Score
Do you have a headgate?
(Yes __ 5, No __ 0)
.
Do you have a working chute?
(Yes __ 5, No __ 0)
.
Do you have a holding pen?
(Yes __ 5, No __ 0)
.
Do you have a chute or ramp for loading and unloading cattle?
(Yes __ 5, No __ 0)
.
Are the handling facilities well-constructed and properly braced?
(Yes __ 5, No __ 0)
.
Is the facility in good repair?
(Yes __ 5, No __ 0)
.
Is a set of scales incorporated into working facilities?
(Yes __ 5, No __ 0)
.
Headgate .
Is the headgate adjustable for different-size animals?
(Yes __ 2, No __ 0)
.
Is headgate the walk-through type?
(Yes __ 1, No __0)
.
Chute .
How wide is working chute?
(26” or less __ 5, 26” to 28” __ 3, 30” or more __ 0)
.
Is the bottom half of the working chute built with solid walls?
(Yes __ 1, No __0)
.
Is the chute tall enough to keep animals from jumping over?
(Yes __ 1, No __ 0)
.
Is a blocking gate in the chute?
(Yes __ 1, No __0)
.
Is a cutting gate in the chute?
(Yes __ 1, No __ 0)
.
Is there a gate in the chute to allow access for pregnancy checking?
(Yes __ 5, No __ 0)
.
How many cows will the chute hold?
(3 or more __ 3, 2 __ 2, 1__0)
.
Are overhead braces in chute high enough to prevent head bumping?
(Yes __ 4, No __ 0)
.
Do you have a funnel to get cattle into the chute?
(Yes __ 4, No __ 0)
.
Is the bottom of the chute concreted or . lled with packed gravel?
(Yes__ 1, No__0)
.
Do you have a solid crowding gate to push cattle into the chute?
(Yes__ 1, No__0)
.
Is the chute arranged so cattle move toward light?
(Yes__ 1, No__0)
.
Do you have a sorting alley?
(Yes __ 1, No __0)
.
Holding Pen .
Will the holding pen hold at least one-half of cow herd or 30 head, whichever is smaller?
(Yes __ 1, No __0)
.
Does the holding pen access to crowding pen, working alley and squeeze chute?
(Yes__ 1, No__0)
.
Are gates in holding pen located at corners to facilitate moving cattle in and out?
(Yes __ 2, No __ 0)
.
Miscellaneous .
Are cattle-handling facilities free of exposed nails or other sharp objects?
(Yes __ 1, No __0)
.
Is at least a part of the facility covered for working cattle during inclement weather?
(Yes __ 1, No __0)
.
Is a graveled access road available to working facilities?
(Yes__ 1, No__0)
.
Is electricity available at working facilities?
(Yes__ 1, No__0)
.
Is running water available at working facilities?
(Yes __ 1, No __0)
.
Now total your score: .
Rate Your Facilities As Follows  
67 - 74 points — Excellent  
57 - 66 points — Good  
48 - 56 points — Fair  
Below 37 points – Are you sure you have a cattle-handling facility?  

How did your facilities rate?

The purpose of this evaluation is to emphasize some of the more important features of beef cattle-handling systems. If you are not satisfied with your score, make plans now to either renovate or perhaps rebuild. If you need assistance and plans in either developing or improving your beef cattlehandling system, contact your local Extension office.

May 2007

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