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Homemade alleyways for cattle handling

 
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I'm planning to build a small scale cattle handling facility on my farm. I started a thread about head gates here https://permies.com/t/128382/talk-head-gates

Now I'd like to discuss the alleyway leading to a head gate.

I've found all kinds of stuff on the internets, expensive stuff, to put together and build alleyways and crowding tubs and such. There are even complete kits with assembly required and the result is a nice shiny steel alleyway, crowding tub and holding pen, and I think they're terribly expensive coming in over $10,000 for one. My wife and I don't have that kind of dough just laying around, and I've also been working on minimizing being a consumer and buying less and instead creating and building more as I go forward in life.

So, I've found a little general information on alleyway width and other guidelines. As with anything on the internet, some folks tout one way as the best, and others tout the complete opposite as the best. For example, some say curved alleyways! Other's say no, the cows can't see around the bend and they can balk, make straight alleyways so they have clear line of sight to where they're going! Some say use solid walls, others say use boards with gaps. Some say have the alleyway narrower at the bottom than the top, making a V, and others say make the sides plumb vertical. For every piece of information I find, I also find contradicting information.

Do any cattle handlers here on permies have a homemade alleyway? and if so, what do you like or not like about it and if you were building a new one (from lumber) what would you build? Does anyone also have any other "I wish I had done this" advice, that is related to cattle handling facilities?
 
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The alley way should have a way to keep them moving forward, or better to say prevent them from going backwards.

In my case the orange sq tube in picture does this.

Because i rarely use the alley, grass grows tall. My bull almost got his head stuck reaching in to eat it. So wherher it is solid or piped, keep the gaps too small for a head or large enough to not get stuck.
cattle-alleyway.jpg
cattle alleyway
cattle alleyway
 
wayne fajkus
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The biggest consideration (and a fail i had to rework) is getting them in the alley. The other one is the ability to sort them. I mentioned in your other thread that running all the cows thru the shoot is easier than running one thru it. This can't happen if the cow is loaded onto a trailer (sold it, taking to slaughter house). So some way to sort is needed. In our case we built a mini corral inside the corral. Just getting them in the funnel was daunting because the corral was too big. We get them into the mini corral which has a pasture gate and a funnel to the alley. No choice but to go through the funnel to the alley.
cattle-alleyway2.jpg
cattle alleyway2
cattle alleyway2
cattle-alleyway-funnel.jpg
cattle alleyway funnel
cattle alleyway funnel
cattle-handling-facility.jpg
cattle handling facility
cattle handling facility
 
James Freyr
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Wayne thanks for the pictures and info. That helps give me some ideas.

I noticed your squeeze chute in the pictures. Since having it and using it, has it become one of those indispensable items that you can't imagine going without compared to just having a head gate?
 
wayne fajkus
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Here is a drawing. Not saying its the best but it works. Visualize it without the mini corral and you can see it was tuff to get them thru. They go in the mini corral cause the grass is tall cause it is rarely used. I open the gate once a month so they can get a treat. So they go in there readily. Once in there they have no path except the alley based on gate arrangement. I can let one out of a gate also if I am loading a specific cow.


The main corral has changed to add more paddock gates for rotation. This is something else to consider. If water is centralized in the corral, make it so you can change pasture within that corral. Lots and lots of gates.
cattle-handling-facility-schematic.jpg
cattle handling facility schematic
cattle handling facility schematic
 
wayne fajkus
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James Freyr wrote:Wayne thanks for the pictures and info. That helps give me some ideas.

I noticed your squeeze chute in the pictures. Since having it and using it, has it become one of those indispensable items that you can't imagine going without compared to just having a head gate?



I would have to ask the vet. He is the one that uses it. I am pretty sure he uses the squeeze part.

I know this is not precise info but if you think about it, the vet is the key. If you don't have the infrastructure for him to do the work here, then he will ask that you transport the cow to him. That has bigger headaches. I know a man that never put in the infrastructure. Not just the chute, but proper movement and loading. A bull can knock over his corral. Its such a chore to get the cow into the corral that he does it the day before. A single cow separated from the herd. He/she gets injured trying to get out. I've seen bloody mouthed cows  damaged gates, and other injuries that are not needed with a proper set up.

A proper set up and you load them up and go. You don't miss your appointment with the slaughterhouse.
 
James Freyr
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wayne fajkus wrote:He/she gets injured trying to get out. I've seen bloody mouthed cows  damaged gates, and other injuries that are not needed with a proper set up.

A proper set up and you load them up and go. You don't miss your appointment with the slaughterhouse.



These are exactly the kinds of things I prefer to avoid, and I believe that with proper design and a facility built well, situations like you mention can be drastically reduced. I'd really like to build it right the first time.
 
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