When to look at a Hydraulic Chute Upgrade
Published on Wed, 02/06/2019 - 12:18pm
When to look at a Hydraulic Chute Upgrade
Article provided by Arrowquip
When looking at cattle chutes, there are so many options available to ranchers. With self-catch, manual catch, and hydraulic options available from countless cattle equipment manufacturers, it can be difficult to determine the right kind of chute for your needs. The search can be overwhelming, however when proper considerations are taken during the purchasing process you can find the right cattle chute for your needs without the headaches!
Here are five things that could mean you should look at a hydraulic squeeze chute instead of a manual one.
1. How many cattle are you running?
Often, the main deciding factor in whether to look at a hydraulic chute is the number of cattle you are running, but too often that number is elevated. Veterinarian, Roy Lewis says, “my rule of thumb is anyone in the 250-head plus range for cows would be wise to consider a hydraulic chute to make their life easier”. Looking at a hydraulic chute for 250 head of cattle can greatly improve your processing times, and simplify your life.
Even in smaller operations, there are times it can be useful to look at a hydraulic chute. If you must process your cattle regularly, or complete tasks such as AI and semen testing, a hydraulic chute can make it much easier to manage your cattle regularly because they are not stressed by the experience.
2. Think about your processing requirements.
What are the tasks you are doing routinely when managing your cattle? When looking at the potential processing benefits of a squeeze chute, look beyond the side access and palpation cage. While these pieces are important, none of them come into play until after the animal is secured in the chute. The speed of your head gate, security of the squeeze, and flow of livestock through the chute all play an important factor in speeding up the way you process your cattle.
Go through the chute and look at it from a cow’s perspective to monitor for tripping hazards, flooring problems, and potential distractions that could cause cattle to baulk or impede flow. Once you’ve done that, look at the exterior of the chute and ensure you have the tools you need to complete your handling tasks effectively. Finally, look at the head gate itself. Head gates that hinge at the bottom in a scissor-motion can be seen on manual and hydraulic chutes, and are a challenge for cattle to exit. This can result in significant delays in livestock flow.
3. What size cattle are you working?
When working in a cow-calf operation, one of the biggest annoyances is the need to adjust the head gate to accommodate cattle of different sizes. Some new models of manual chutes have head gates that require no adjustments, but many models still require settings to be changed for varying sizes of cattle. Not only can these adjustments cause time delays, but female operators and those of smaller stature may not be able to make the required adjustments without assistance.
Hydraulic chutes feature head gates that don’t require adjustments, simplifying the process for all handlers and eliminating delays in processing livestock. Be sure to look closely at the models you are considering to ensure the features are suitable for your operation’s requirements, paying specific consideration to the location of the controls so you can get out of the flight zone.
4. How much help do you have?
Considering the help you have available to you is essential when looking at a new chute purchase. “[Labor] can be a major expense in larger cow-calf, bison and feedlot operations, but also just the availability of help can be your limiting component”, says Lewis. This is a reality known all too well by many in the cattle industry, as good help is becoming harder and harder to find.
A common misunderstanding is that self-catch chutes are the best option for solo operators, however this doesn’t take into account many of the known issues with self-catch head gates including bruising, missed catches, and chute-shyness. A well-designed manual chute with rear head gate control, or controls that can be used at any point along the side of the chute, is a great, cost-effective option that doesn’t have the known issues associated with self-catch chutes.
While not always considered, hydraulic equipment is often the best option for producers who know they will not have help on hand regularly. Hydraulic chutes allow you to process many animals without the fatigue associated with manual cattle and self-catch chutes, as the task of catching and restraining the animal are taken care of for you.
5. Look at the cost-savings associated with your investment.
A chute is a huge investment for any operation, no matter what style you are considering. While it’s important to keep your budget in mind, you should also consider the fact that you get what you pay for when it comes to squeeze chutes.
Often, producers feel that a hydraulic chute is out of reach simply based on budget constraints, but recent innovations in cattle equipment have driven prices up across the industry. “Most good manual chutes today cost half to two-thirds that of a hydraulic chute so really the cost difference is not huge when considering the years of use it will provide,” Lewis. While the investment up front may be greater, the resulting cost-savings can be substantial in the long run in tangible and intangible ways. Eliminating the need for extra ranch hands can result in immediate savings, and later you can see the benefits through added gains and minimized bruising at sale time.
When looking at a new chute, taking all of your options into consideration is important. Visit a trade show to get your hands on the equipment and see it live, or take a trip to your local cattle equipment dealer to give it a try if there isn’t a trade show coming up. Just like buying a tractor, a squeeze chute is a big investment for your farm, and you want to be sure of the decision when you make it. If you do your research, you will choose a chute that will serve you well for years to come no matter what type of chute you decide to go with.
For more information, or to connect with a dealer in your area, contact Arrowquip at 1-866-383-7827 or visit arrowquip.com.