Handling facilities tips

Any producer who is dealing with cattle needs some type of handling facilities, whether he/she has 10 steers or 1,000.
Handling facilities are—and will continue to be—an important part of a successful cattle operation, allowing the producer many advantages and options.
The following is the first of a three-part series on handling facilities from Harold K. House, dairy and beef housing and equipment engineer with the OMAF and MRA:
Handling facilities allow producers to make use of current and future technology available in the industry.
From simple tagging to more complex health management practices, a good handling facility gives the producer the choice of what to use and what not to.
With many beef operations being a part-time enterprise, time and labour often are at a premium. Good facilities reduce the time and labour needed and, therefore, reduce the costs.
The labour force also may be happier and more willing to work in an efficient facility.
The safety and health of both the animals and the people working them need to be considered any time cattle are handled. Cattle often outweigh the operator by a considerable amount, and with four legs are much more stable and better balanced.
Good facilities, with slip-resistant flooring, will reduce stress levels as well as help to prevent expensive bruising.
Many management procedures give better results if applied with a certain level of skill. This is much more likely to happen if the animal can be properly restrained.
Producer satisfaction with a job done right also is a side benefit of a good handling facility.
Locate the facilities:
•close to the cattle to be worked (i.e., feedlot, barnyard, etc.);
•where there is good road access and turning room for livestock trucks; and
•to blend in with future plans for the operation.
It may be desirable to consider portable handling facilities for some operations.
What is needed for a facility will vary depending on the operation. A number of things should be considered before making this decision, such as:
•the layout of present and future buildings and yards;
•the size, weight, and numbers of cattle normally worked;
•the extent of processing to be carried out; and
•the amount of labour available to help with processing.
Once these have been decided on, the system itself breaks down into two sections—the basic components, or heart of the system, and the optional components, or accessories.
Next week’s article will outline the basic components and many of the optional ones.