Handling Livestock Efficiently and Effectively
Published on Tue, 08/24/2021 - 12:21pm
Handling Livestock Efficiently and Effectively.
By Maura Keller.
Properly handling livestock should be one of the key areas of focus on any size ranch or farm. Not only do proper chutes, headgates, and corrals ensure the efficient movement and handling of livestock, they also can enhance the safety of both operators and animals alike, reducing likelihood of stress and physical injury.
Founded in 1983, Green’s Welding and Sales (GWS) is owned by Chris and Karen Green with the goal of manufacturing well-design and solidly built products. As a cattleman and through his experience as a repair welder, he learned what it takes to design and fabricate quality products for cattle. Located in Appleton City, MO, GWS has grown from primarily a repair welding shop to an expansive manufacturing plant offering both livestock feeding equipment and livestock handling equipment.
In the area of chutes and headgates, Green’s Welding and Sales manufactures a standard 20’ cattle working chute. As Chris Green, owner of Green’s Welding and Sales explains, a Foremost model 30 headgate is utilized or customers can provide their own headgate.
“The overall basic GWS design has withstood the test of time. Recently we changed designs to allow more room in front of the palpation doors to accommodate longer cows,” Green says.
The standard features for a GWS 20’ portable working alley include a removable front panel, tailgate, palpation doors, cattle stop pipe and holes, hydraulic jack lift system, and 30” solid sides. In addition, the GWS options for cattle working chutes include a different model of Foremost headgate (depending on availability), without headgate, right side open, 8 bolt wheels, 20’ stationary working chute (without running gear), a 24’ chute, an 8’ portable working chute with trailer, and an 8’ stationary working chute.
“When selecting a chute for their farm or ranch, producers need to consider a chute to accommodate the size of their herd and the size of their cows, and the size of their pocketbooks,” Green says. “And remember, cheaper is not always betters as you get what you pay for. And don’t buy things you really won’t use. Adding features that are not used is costly and an unnecessary expense.”
A Solid Vision
It was in 2002 that John McDonald, owner of Rawhide Portable Corrals, initially developed the first portable hydraulic corral on wheels with multiple pens and 200-head capacity. And although McDonald’s technological innovation received immediate accolades and a long-lasting consumer base, it didn’t prevent McDonald from continually seeking to modify, improve and advance his original design to meet the evolving livestock handling needs of cattle ranchers and producers. The subsequent enhancements of the original design of the Rawhide Portable Corral have resulted in multiple corral options and additional product features that end users have come to depend upon.
“When I first invented the Rawhide, it was out of necessity,” says John McDonald. “I was doing some things with livestock in isolated pastures and we were set up like most people—namely with portable panels. My initial objective was just to be able to set something up that was not labor involved or labor intensive and to catch whatever I needed to and go on with my day.”
At the time that McDonald had the initial idea for his portable hydraulic corral, there was only one similar product on the market, and it was a product that McDonald didn’t even know existed until he was going forward with his product vision and had to explore the patent issues he faced.
“I learned all I could about the other patent,” McDonald says. “So I knew I was in a good place once I started moving forward with my product idea. I accomplished what I wanted and designed something that would work as a trailer, as well as a rack and had the panels needed to set up a corral.”
Through the years McDonald has gleaned information from end users and from customers, as well as from the questions he received at various farm shows he attended. Embracing these questions and evaluating the information and feedback he received has resulted in a continuous improvement process that has produced a refined product that truly stands out from the crowd.
“In the last 19 years, that’s what I’ve focused on—continually improving upon my original product idea,” McDonald says.
Today, Rawhide Portable Corral customers can choose from a series of different models. The Rawhide Original features two sizes, (the standard which is ideal for 40 to 50 cow/calf pairs and the large version for 80 to 100 cow/calf pairs) and is a basic catch-pen model. This system still boasts fast, 10-minute labor—free set ups, a hydraulic jack, self-contained power unit and battery with a solar panel, and the ability for the entire system to be driven through with a bale or cube feeder.
Because continuous improvement is at the forefront of McDonald’s vision for his product line, the company also offers the advanced Rawhide Processor model, which has become the most popular corral that Rawhide makes. It comes in multiple sizes as well as optional features to accommodate a wide range of corral needs. These advancements to the corral include a head gate, hydraulic adjustable alley, and loading chute.
Jon Mollhagen, owner of Moly Manufacturing, also understands what it takes to keep both livestock and producers safe during the livestock handling process. That’s why Mollhagen has worked diligently to manufacture custom cattle-handling equipment including chutes and headgates that keep the handling process running smoothly.
One of Moly Manufacturing’s core product is the SILENCE hydraulic squeeze chute, which offers limits both animal and operator while offering a streamlined livestock handling process. Today Moly Manufacturing builds hundreds of configurations of SILENCE starting with five key models, including Ranch, Heavy Duty, Commercial Pro, Maxx and Tilt chutes.
“When producers are evaluating the types of chutes and headgates they need, they need to think about all aspects of your operation and what you need on a hydraulic chute to create a safer, lower stress environment,” Mollhagen says.
SILENCER’s ultra-popular hydraulic neck extender bars offer a low-pressure solution for ultimate head and neck control. Operators can move the head three ways and gain control of the neck and shoulder area while reducing the risk of bruising and choking. This extender allows producers to give more accurate injections using less labor and lower stress.
“Hydraulic sort gates, controlled at the SILENCER Chute, are the most popular tool as the need to reduce labor continues to grow,” Mollhagen says. “One SILENCER operator can now cover another level of the process.”
In addition to thoroughly evaluating the ideal type of chute needed for a producer’s specific situation, Mollhagen says it’s also important to be patient, be picky and shop lots of hydraulic chutes before making a choice.
“And remember to include options like scales, carrier and hydraulic sort gates when building your hydraulic chute plan,” Mollhagen says.
Tarter USA also offers its Cattlemaster Hydraulic Chute, to help enhance the safety and efficiency of cattle operations. To streamline the process, the Tarter hydraulic shoot allows operators to easily operate the tailgate, head gate and squeeze function, providing an accessible vantage point to vaccinate, deworm and brand livestock.
In addition, the Tarter provides a series of automatic headgates that are ideal for medium to large-size herds. Again, these automatic headgates are designed for single operator use and can be adjusted for both calves and bulls.