Step Out of the Box with New Cattle Handling System Designs

Published on Tue, 03/23/2021 - 3:28pm

Step Out of the Box with New Cattle Handling System Designs.

 By Dana Charban.

 When designing a cattle corral it is easy to fall into the way things have always been done, especially when many “custom” cattle handling system design services only provide this option. While square corral designs are common because they are the easiest and most straightforward way to design corrals, they may not be the right fit for your operation. Often, rounded edges on cattle pens provide a less stressful experience for livestock and handlers alike.

Rounded pens are used frequently in other countries to promote better cattle flow and make it easier for handlers to manage their cattle. In countries like Australia, where cattle are handled infrequently and tend to be extremely flighty as a result, rounded cattle pens provide a reliable way to process livestock without adding extra stress to the situation.

While this corral design concept is relatively new to North America, experts such as Temple Grandin promote the use of curved alleyways and cattle tubs to create draw and flow through to the cattle chute for processing. This works with one of the five key concepts of cattle behavior – that cattle want to return to where they have come from – because it essentially tricks cattle into thinking they are turning back. While applying this concept to the outer corrals may seem like a stretch, the proof is clear in the way cattle move through the handling system.

What are the benefits of rounded edges in your cattle pen?

1.   1. No cattle in the corners.

When using pressure zone handling, it is important to give cattle a clear escape route to relieve the pressure you are putting on them. Animals backed into a corner are more likely to feel trapped, as there is no place for them to escape and get away from the pressure of the handler trying to move them in the right direction. This makes them more likely to become agitated and experience excess stress, which can make them a danger to handlers and other livestock located nearby.

2.   2. Easier to use point of balance cattle handling techniques.

It is important to remember that low-stress cattle handling does not equate to low-pressure cattle handling, and to create good flow through the handling system the handler must put the right pressure on livestock to guide them in the direction they need to go. Pens with rounded edges make it easier to use point of balance cattle handling techniques. Cattle will respect the guidance of a good handler who can use pressure strategically, and pens with rounded corners allow you to use the panels to guide cattle through the system in the right direction. Alternatively, square corners provide an opportunity for cattle to stop and resist your pressure, which is never an ideal situation to be in.

3. 3. Wide, square alleys prevent flow and make it difficult to sort.

Often, traditional cattle pens feature a long, wide alleyway through the centre of the system. While this is often a necessity to provide enough space for handlers to sort cattle safely, it creates the opportunity for cattle to turn back and move away from the cattle working equipment you need to get them into, causing processing delays and headaches for handlers. Consider a Draft Pound instead. This central location within your cattle handling system is an alternative to sorting in the pens, and provides an easy way to sort cattle off into different groups safely.

It is important to work with a manufacturer who provides truly customized handling system designs. They should work with you throughout the process to get to know your operation’s needs, including the type of operation you are running, livestock breed and average size, handler experience level, determine the right placement for your system, and accommodate any buildings you are working with. While many cattle panel and gate manufacturers offer these “custom” services, they provide standardized designs to all producers and a “one-size fits all approach” that doesn’t work well from the moment it is installed.

Arrowquip offers extensive cattle handling design services and a truly customized experience for every cattle rancher they work with. Their team uses satellite imagery to get to know the landscape of your property, and work with you closely to get to know the needs of your operation so they can provide the best recommendations possible while working within your budget. To request a free cattle handling system design with a Livestock Equipment and Design Expert or learn more about their unique design process, contact their team at or