“We talk a lot about slowing down so you can be fast,” says Travis Meteer, University of Illinois Extension beef educator, as he talks about ways to create a safe and efficient cattle working facility. “You want the kind of set up that allows one person to sort, operate the chute and deliver the injection; it’s a lot less stress on the operator and the animal.”
Meteer says a safe environment for handling and vaccinating is a key component to the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program.
Here are 5 BQA-friendly handling and vaccinating tips:
1. Round’em up
Meteer says one of the biggest handling mistakes in a working facility is using the sweep pen as a holding pen. “Those pens are meant to put cattle into that alley, they are not designed to hold animals,” Meteer says. “The size of your alley determines how many head are brought into the sweep pen.”
Instead, use two or more sorting pens in front of a squeeze chute and never crowd a pen more than three-quarters full. Alex Head, Head Cattle/Dipper Farmers, explains they bring 150 cows into the “big holding pen”, 15-20 into a smaller pen behind the chute and four cows feed into the sweep pen and then the chute.
2. Use the cattle’s natural tendencies
“Cattle like to relieve pressure,” Meteer says. “There will be pressure on cattle in a sweep pen and they’ll want to relieve the pressure and go into the alley and squeeze chute where they feel more comfortable.”
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