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Thursday, April 9, 2015

#TBT Why would Ranchers Change the Facilities they Use?



A note from KFM.  We have another #TBT Guest Post from a great farm blogger.  If you are not already following Darcy, you really should be!  I love reading her posts!!  This week we look at why ranchers would want to have different facilities than their grandparents.  Darcy takes a very candid look at it and while you might laugh at some of her reasoning, it is all absolutely true! 

Hi!  I’m Darcy from over at Success is Reason Enough and I blog about ranch life and everything else that goes with it.  I’m excited to be here today talking about facilities.  Some girls get excited about new clothes or makeup – well, I get excited about cattle equipment!  J
The ranch my husband works for works cattle in different locations across the ranch.   In addition, we have our own personal cattle breeding service so we own a variety of portable equipment, which we often use at the ranch too because it lets us work cattle in more locations.  We have a bit of everything here – new & old, manual & hydraulic, stationary & portable.  So when Nicole emailed me and asked if I’d do a #TBT guest post on facilities – I thought that was right up my {cattle} alley!
We use four main types of facilities – alleyways, chutes, calf tables and AI boxes.  Today I thought I’d focus mainly on chutes since every ranch needs a way to “catch” cattle.   We’re partial to Daniels Manufacturing chutes and alleyways as we think they’re well built, portable in many cases, and smartly designed.  WW is our choice for panels and tubs and Larges makes the best AI equipment in our book.  No matter what brand you own or use – I think the goal on every ranch is to work cattle in a safe & efficient manner.
That’s where the #TBT comes in.  The industry has come a LONG way since the old days.
Anyone have or remember the old wooden chutes that look like a guillotine?

Anyone still use a V-head catch chute where you have to make sure cattle don’t go down, or they’ll choke?
Anyone dreaming for a hydraulic chute when they’re having to catch cattle manually?

I get it. 
We’re pretty frugal people, and try to use something for as long as we can and make it work for us.  Plus – it’s hard to see a “return” from equipment.  It doesn’t weigh more, or convert more.  But the safety aspects that newer chutes provide both to cattle and the people working the cattle are tremendous.  I’ll often say “There isn’t any cow out there whose calves can pay for a hospital stay”. 
Before we moved back to Hermiston from Nebraska, my husband was wanting to convert a portable chute into a hydraulic chute.  It had a self-catching head catch, which is a step up from the manual head catch so I didn’t understand why we needed to drop a few pretty pennies to convert it to hydraulic.
It worked just fine.
I thought.
And then I worked cattle in a hydraulic chute at Double M and I GOT IT.


First, working cattle in a hydraulic chute is much easier on the operator.  You pull a few levers and the cow is quickly and effortlessly restrained.  Second - she’s thrashing less, and you’re not nursing a sore upper body the next day.   I get that not everyone can afford to have a hydraulic chute, but if you work any amount of cattle and are looking to upgrade a facility in a time of high cattle prices – this is where I’d start your investment.  We purchased a portable hydraulic chute a few years ago and use it ourselves and also rent it out to neighboring ranches.  If you can’t afford a new hydraulic chute, you can often find used ones online or maybe a neighbor has one you could rent too. 

The stationary alleys at the ranch are all straight wooden alleys, with a circular tub in the back. These have been in place for years, and the cattle are used to them and the work ok.  However we use a portable alleyway with a Bud box on the back at the sale barn and when we’re on the road breeding cows and love them!  Using a Bud Box takes a different mindset – you let cattle “escape” versus pushing them – but once you use it correctly, it’s amazing how well the cattle work.  I visited a feedlot this winter, and the manager said that his cowboy crew wouldn’t want to work with anything but a Bud Box, and another feedlot in our area said they can load a semi-truck in 8 minutes using a Bud Box. 

Investing in today’s new cattle facilities may require an investment that you can’t weigh or compute gain on.  But when cattle flow easily and safely through them, and you can operate them without having to take Advil at the end of the day – well, that’s priceless!