Choosing the right chute

Mar 02, 2020


It’s TAEP time in Tennessee and many farmers are gearing up to purchase new cattle working equipment. It can be really challenging to find the right squeeze chute to meet the needs of your farm, cattle, wallet and cattle handlers. There are a few things to consider when choosing the right squeeze chute: low stressors, animal comfort, accessibility and worker safety.
 
To follow Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) guidelines, producers should look for a chute that will reduce stress on the cattle, make working the cattle easier and be safe for the animal and operator. Stress is one of the biggest issues when working cattle and that can be minimalized with a good working chute. Loud noises and sounds are some of the worst stressors for cattle, but a quiet and smooth chute would lower that stressor.
 
The animal should be safe, calm and comforted while in the chute. BQA’s Best Management Practices guide recommends a chute with contoured or curved sides for a better, more comfortable fit. This is such a better fit because the bars are shaped to fit the curvature of the cow’s body. Selecting blinders or chute covers can also be effective for cattle comfort because they are less likely to be spooked and balk. One other thing to keep in mind is the presence of an emergency exit in case you were to need it.
 
This is where a chute really becomes tailored to each farm. A good squeeze chute is able to open, close and conform to the needs of the cattlemen. Do you brand? Make sure to look for one with drop down panels at the animal’s side or hip. Do you castrate on-site? Make sure to have a drop down panel for easy flank access. BQA recommends a good quality chute that holds the head of the calf well for safer shot administration and ear tagging.
 
When the animal is calm and comfortable everyone is safer. Each worker is less likely to be run over, stepped on or kicked if the process is smooth. Make sure the animal is properly restrained is the first step. This will help prevent broken arms, smashed feet and hands, mis-tagged ears and broken needles. Make sure when choosing the right chute that your workers fit to it. Watch for too high or too low levers or a surprise swing gate that hits your note taker upon opening.
 
When choosing the right chute, make sure you look at every angle and find the right match for you and all lives involved.
 

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