The Cattle Chute

Cattle chutes are an important piece of equipment in a cattle operation. They hold an animal still so handlers and veterinarians can safely work procedures and care for it. However, if the cow isn’t calm, nobody’s happy.

Paul Beck is an extension livestock specialist at Oklahoma State University. He says cattle don’t perceive the world in the same way we do. Their hearing is better, but their depth perception is lousy. Anything you can do to make the experience less stressful for the animal while it’s walking to or in the chute is beneficial for both cattle and handlers. Evaluate the chute and surroundings from a cow’s perspective before you start working the animals.

"Anything unfamiliar to those animals will cause them balk. So, picking up the litter and not having flags or something waving in front of them, or dangling chains, shadows, those all cause cattle to balk and turn around," says Beck. "And that becomes dangerous to the person handling those animals if they’re down there with them."

The more cattle are acclimated to the chute and their surroundings, the better off they are when they realize they’re not going to be harmed.

"There’s a lot to be said for your cows to run them through without doing anything to them. Just run them through to apply topical de-wormer or fly control," he says. "Those types of things make them realize that not every time I come through, am I going to get stuck with a needle, or is it going to be a negative experience?"

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