Calf catcher makes it safer for operator AND vehicle
After his pickup got a couple dents from angry mother cows during calving season, Arnold Graybill decided to build a calf cage. Now his ATV (and the driver) are both shielded from damage.
"We had a family member who was hospitalized by a protective mama cow. My father-in-law has been helping with tagging. This gives us all more security. And if I had to, I could do the job by myself," says Graybill.
The calf cage has three spring-loaded gates. One is for entry to the four-wheeler on the left side; the other two on the catcher section lock open. Releasing a lever by the driver's right hand makes the gates snap and lock closed.
Since the cage is attached to a center-mounted ATV snowplow, there is an added support wheel to keep both cages level and more solid.
Another thing smoothing out the bumps is a walking beam tandem axle. For the catcher cage's tandem wheels, he took an axle from a small trailer he had on hand. He cut the spindles off each end and welded them at right angles back onto a piece of the axle.
Graybill says he had some of the materials sitting around and spent about $375 on the rest, mainly steel, 20-foot wire livestock panels, the support wheel and spindle, and paint.
Another thing he incorporated is a top slide mechanism that lets the outside cage go up and down, absorbing uneven terrain independently of the ATV cage. "The two cages are hinged at the bottom where they connect, and at the top they are connected with the slide mechanism," he explains.
There is even a tote carrier that clips on the wire of the cage for holding syringes, taggers, iodine bottles, and other supplies.
The cage surrounding the four-wheeler is 9 feet long, 62 inches wide, and 50 inches high. The side cage has the same dimensions except it's only 52 inches wide. Entry gates to the ATV and the opening between it and the side cage are both 2 1/2 feet wide.
The double gates open to 4 feet wide for calf catching. Most of the framework is made from 1-inch square metal tubing.
Another $2,500 Winner
Graybill is the next recipient of a $2,500 Firestone in-store credit offer for having his idea chosen as the Idea Of The Month.
Meet Arnold Graybill
- Operation: Grows wheat on dryland acres near Kanorado, Kansas, once owned by his uncle and grandfather. Remainder of 1,250 acres is in CRP and pasture for a 66-head cattle herd.
- Family: Wife Lori teaches high school in Goodland. They have three grown children and three grandchildren. Lori's parents, Roland and Shirley Schrunk, live close by. Roland advises and assists.
- Sideline: This former heavy truck mechanic is happy to do mechanical work for his neighbors. "We're quite a ways from town. Besides, it's fun to make things," he says.
- Hobby: Gardening in their raised beds, which are dirt-filled stock tanks.
- Friends: One jokes that the U.S. Census could use the calf cage to gather up people.