Animals can be difficult to control, and when they are your livelihood it is a struggle you will have to overcome every single day. Not being able to manage your livestock can result in them hurting themselves, other animals, damaging property or hurting someone else. This is why cattle farmers need equipment and yards that help them manage the creatures in their care.
Cattle yards can be the heart of a farm and the very centre of how to control and manage it. Therefore, it is of the upmost importance that when cattle yards are designed and installed, it is done correctly.
Suits your unique needs
Every farm is different. Although cattle farmers are united in the animal they trade, the breed of cattle, what they use them for, the land they reside on, the size of the herd, and the very farmers themselves all amount to making every farm utterly unique. Therefore, cattle yards cannot come stock standard, they must be customised to the unique conditions and specifications needed for each particular farm if the yard is to be of the highest rating in quality, efficiency and general ease of use. It would also be best to choose a cattle yard made of a high quality steel that is designed to withstand the harshest of conditions to ensure longevity of the yard maximising value for money.
Can move as you need it
No business stays the same and farms are no different. Change is inevitable, especially in an industry that is exposed to so many factors such as weather and seasons, product demand, industry wealth, a farmer’s personal finances, the health of the cattle, and so on, it would be best for farmers to have yards that can be altered and meet their future needs. Farmers need yards that can be moved and yet are solid enough to stay in place when required. Being able to move your yard prepares farmers for whatever change may be thrown their way.
Cattle need yards that ensure they can be moved about with as little stress as possible. Their wellbeing is crucial as stressed cattle can result in injury not only for the livestock, but for the farmers as well. Farmers therefore should opt for yards and equipment that will help to keep their cattle comfortable and have minimal stress.
Farmers also deserve to have less stress in their lives. Trying to figure out exactly what they need can cost farmers time and money that most cannot afford, or don’t want, to spare. Getting quality professionals to design, manufacture and install the cattle yards can greatly decrease stress and can give farmers the peace of mind that their cattle yards are of the highest quality and that it will meet their needs. Selecting the right professionals must be carefully done however to ensure this.
Every profession needs the proper tools if they are to carry out their jobs properly. For a cattle farmer, a cattle yard is an important tool. It is therefore the duty of every cattle farmer to make sure they choose the right cattle yard for their farm that meets their needs. Afterall, a high quality cattle yard is an investment in not only the farmers wellbeing, but the wellbeing of the cattle and of the future of the farm itself.
If you’re looking for a robust, thoughtful cattle yard design, contact us at Steel Supplies Charters Towers.
The cattle industry is hugely benefitting from the wave of new technological advancements. New technology has allowed farmers to become more efficient with their labour and time, have better control over cattle wellbeing and better quality of production.
Today, farming technology is impacting all facets of cattle production and handling. Products are being developed to improve the wellbeing of animals and limit the amount of distress caused to them.
In 2017, the CSIRO developed a poll gene-marker test that has allowed Aussie farmers to breed Australia’s first generation of hornless cattle. While necessary in the wild, horns on a farm are dangerous and costly as cattle can hurt themselves or others in the vicinity. The CSIRO states that bruising alone costs the beef industry $30 million a year, or $4 per animal at the point of slaughter. Dehorning is a bloody and labour-intensive procedure that has long been a welfare issue within the industry. This test provides a genetic solution that saves money and looks after the welfare of the cattle, eliminating the need for such a procedure altogether.
Another new technology in cattle welfare is an electronic tracking ear tag that will help provide data to help graziers manage their livestock and farmland. Currently being developed by the James Cook University (JCU) in Townsville and the Queensland Department of Science, the ear tags will measure the animal’s behaviour, temperature, and more to provide an accurate picture of an animal’s movements across a paddock or farm.
The solar-powered tag will turn on and off as required, harvesting energy from its environment – meaning the batteries will not have to be replaced. Users of the tags would be able to have a record of the animal’s entire life which could dramatically increase its value as food security becomes an increasingly important issue in many countries. Tracking animals may also reduce chances of theft and allow for an increase in operational and land-use efficiency. Animal health and biosecurity can also be more closely monitored. 
Automation on the farm
Automation is increasingly helping farmers to be more labour-efficient. Every day, farmers need to fetch cows for milking and open gates to new paddocks. Automatic gate timers allow gates to be released through a latch mechanism and allows the voluntary movement of cows to the dairy. The gates can only be opened automatically, not closed.
Automation has also extended to milking. In the automated milking system, the cow voluntarily enters the milking shed for milking and is recognised by an electronic responder. Suction cups are then attached to the cow’s udder by a robotic arm and they are removed after milking is finished. The free time this automatic system has created allows farm staff to concentrate on other farm and business management activities.
To further increase the efficiency of the milking shed, a computer database can store detailed health, milk production and breeding information on each cow. The computer database uses this information to work out how much to feed the cows and calculate how much it will cost. This information is then fed directly into the automatic milking system. The computer databases can also monitor paddocks and fertiliser use for the farmers.
Virtual Reality and Beef
The virtual reality experience has allowed the public to follow the path from ‘paddock to plate’. At the 2018 Beef Australia Expo, Meat and Livestock Australia used virtual reality to try and educate consumers about the beef supply chain. The experience followed an animal on a cattle station being moved into a feedlot, to processing at an abattoir before landing on the plate in a restaurant. This immersive experience is an effective way to address misconceptions about the beef industry.
Advancing technology in the cattle industry allows farmers to maximise their time and produce a better product with less waste. Additionally, it allows the public and those in the cattle industry to become closer as prejudice and stereotypes are addressed. Ultimately, technology is allowing the gaps in the industry, and between the industry and the public, to grow smaller.
Farming cattle can be a difficult task. Animals can generally be unpredictable and their welfare is almost entirely in a farmer’s hands. The tough Australian conditions paired with the difficulty of farming requires a robust, versatile material that can handle almost anything you throw at it. Steel is a fantastic choice for Aussie farms. Steel can be used to address almost all of your farming concerns. In farming cattle, there are three main things that are of the biggest concern to any farmer: Control, Storage and Health and Safety.
Controlling the herd
Cattle do not always do as they are told. They have minds of their own and will act accordingly. They can wander, become frightened and run away. Being able to control the area they stay in is therefore, very important.
Steel fencing, gates and grids can restrict the movement of cattle, keeping them to a farmer’s property or even in a smaller area, within paddock or yard. Maintaining the perimeter ensures cattle remain within sight or within safe areas. A lack of control can result in cattle becoming lost, injuring themselves through falling or eating questionable or poisonous plants. Control is necessary for their safety and for a farmer’s livelihood.
Storage for longevity
The storage of equipment and feed is vital. Improper storage can result in the feed losing some nutrients, equipment and feed being subject to weather damage, and pests getting into the food and spreading illness and diminishing quantity. Proper storage can ensure your feed and equipment will last longer. Getting proper storage is therefore crucial for the longevity of your farm. Having a steel shed designed and tailored to your specific needs would be ideal as this ensures your storage needs are met perfectly.
Tailored sheds can not only be perfectly customised to your needs, they can also help to ensure your yards and fencing will adapt to the changes yet to come to your farm. Whether your farm grows or downsizes, a tailored solution can help perceive your future needs and help you anticipate them if only by knowing your future options.
Ensuring Health and Safety
Cattle health is paramount and all steps must be taken to maintain it. This includes having regular vet check-ups and keeping up to date with vaccinations. Obviously, putting themselves in close proximity to a frightened or nervous animal may put the vet at risk. To ensure a safer check-up it is necessary to keep a bull or cow within a tighter space during the examination, for their safety and the vet’s.
Steel dips can also be used for health reasons. By bathing the cattle in the dips, mites and pesticides can be removed easily and relatively painlessly. Bathing cattle every now and then can help to maintain the health of cattle and be a preventative measure for other health problems as well.
These three things can only be enhanced by the use of robust, durable steel products. Solving your problems by using a material built for the harsh Australian conditions only ensures the longevity of the farm and infrastructure and the farm itself. The versatility of steel ensures that whatever infrastructure problem you may have on your farm; steel can provide you with a solution.
To see how steel can solve your farming problems, contact us today at Steel Supplies Charters Towers.
The hot weather and dry season in Australia can be crippling for farmers. This year, the rainfall has been the lowest since the 1902 Federation drought. Drought or hail, farmers need to feed their cattle. To do this, they sometimes need to make tough decisions in regard to feeding, weaning, herd numbers and the general wellbeing of the cattle.
Weaning early is one of the most commonly cited ways of reducing water and forage requirements during a drought. A lactating cow typically needs between 50-65 per cent more nutrients than a dry one. Creep feeding prior to weaning can be especially useful in easing the transition from milk to feed. This naturally involves high costs but the expense could be offset by making better use of your existing water reserves.
As pastures become exhausted, there will be an increasing need for feeds that provide both protein and energy. Protein and energy are often supplied through grain and molasses. Cattle appear to self-regulate their intake of the whole cottonseed, which minimises overeating. Many other grains, however, can be difficult and dangerous to feed. When changing the grain diet, it should be done gradually. Sorghum, oats, wheat and barley are commonly used, but molasses is one of the cheapest sources of energy. One kilogram is equivalent to about 0.7 kilograms of grain and is very safe for cattle to consume. Additional protein will be necessary as molasses itself has very little protein. Urea is a cheap source of protein, but it can be dangerous. It must be mixed thoroughly with the molasses.
Making the best use of available forage is key to handling cattle during a crisis. Using hay rings or cone feeders can reduce waste when compared to feeding on the ground. Feeding cattle on a stricter schedule, and not leaving out more than is required can also help to reduce waste. Be sure the fields are properly stocked – overstocked fields will be more adversely affected by drought conditions, while under-stocked fields won’t provide the best use of the resources.
Stressed cattle will be less productive and more prone to health problems – adding to the expenses. Cows must have adequate drinking water and shade. Quality livestock chutes and handling systems can also help to reduce cattle stress. To ensure your new cattle yard and cattle handling equipment is of high value and ensures low stress for you and your cattle, contact Steel Supplies Charters Towers to learn more about what we can do for you and your livestock.
Droughts are difficult, but they do eventually pass. Timely action by farmers is critical to help cattle survive the harsh conditions.
If you’re designing, redesigning or retrofitting your cattle yard, there are a few essential factors you need to consider. Understandably, the most important element that should influence the design of your cattle yard is the movement and behaviour of livestock. With years of practical stock handling experience, we know that yards should be designed to support the natural instincts of the animals. Here we elaborate on what those behaviours are and share some additional essential factors that make for a well-designed cattle yard:
- Cattle behaviours: Understanding the natural behaviour of livestock is essential for the calm and quiet handling of animals. Some behaviours that impact cattle yard design are:
- Cattle are natural herders and like to follow other animals. If they see the herd beside them in a race, they will stop moving forward. Livestock handlers can use loading ramps and forcing pens to keep the cattle moving
- Curved races help cattle move easily and more naturally as they cannot see people standing by the crush
- Cattle do not prefer looking into direct sunlight or bright reflections, so yard orientations should avoid scenarios where this happens
- Yard entrances should be well-lit and not appear to be a dead end as that will prevent stock from moving forward
- Location and site: Location is a primary factor when designing or redesigning a cattle yard. Choose a location that has access to an all-weather road and is away from hazards such as electric lines and structures. The yard capacity, slope of the site and the floor or ground surface should be taken into careful consideration to minimise the risk of trips and falls. Shade trees and water should be easily available for livestock from the yard location.
- Workload: Before designing or redesigning a cattle yard, consider the current and future workloads and capacity of the space. The yard should be able to cater to various livestock operations and must be designed to suit handling techniques. A dedicated barricaded area is also necessary to protect handlers and equipment. The yard should also feature a number of access ways and emergency escapes, especially between the forcing yard and working area.
- Materials: Cattle yards can be constructed using different materials such as steel, concrete and timber. The choice of materials depends upon availability, budget, the type of cattle and suitability to the weather. High-pressure areas such as gateways, forcing yards and races should have a sturdy construction and made of high quality materials. Gate posts should be strengthened with ties or adjustable hinges to avoid gates dropping or lifting.
If you’re looking to buy or install a shed – whether it’s a farm shed, garden shed, warehouse or kids shed – then there’s a little bit of ground work that you need to do. Building versus buying a pre-fabricated shed is another decision altogether however, thinking about these four factors will make your job easier in either scenario.
What is the intended purpose of the shed? This may seem a silly question to ask yourself, but sheds can be quite a versatile facility to add to your property. We encourage you to think about how you’ll use the space in 5-10 years and not just in the short-term. Is it going to be your backyard workshop, carport or simply a storage space for DIY tools? Thinking about this will make choosing materials a lot easier, but it will also allow you to budget for overheads such as lighting and heating/cooling.
- Council approvals
Do you need council approvals for building a shed? Many customers tend to assume that sheds are exempt from building permits as they are not liveable areas, but this is not the case. If you are planning to use the shed as a workshop or a temporary liveable area, this often calls for an approval from the local council. Usually pre-fabricated steel farm sheds do not require approvals however, there are exceptions to this too. It is always best to check with your local council or building surveyor. At Steel Supplies, we help our customers navigate council restrictions and apply for permits where required.
Being outdoor facilities that cop harsh weather, sheds need to be built out of sturdy, hard-wearing materials. Steel is a low-cost and low-maintenance material that is excellent for storage sheds as it is weather-resistant and keeps the moisture out. It is becoming an increasingly popular material for farm sheds as farmers often need to store grains, feed and equipment in a well-ventilated area.
- Solid base
A shed that is built on a solid foundation will stand strong for years. Never build a shed on a low-lying area that can absorb rainwater. Most garden sheds are built on existing concrete slabs however, concrete pavers are a reliable low-cost alternative readily available at home supplies stores. Other popular foundation options include timer frames, piers and gravel.
Aussie farmers need materials that will last through harsh conditions and hard times. When you’re running a farm, there’s no time to worry about rebuilding or replacing farm structures or parts. For those in rural Australia, it is crucial to get materials that last, so you aren’t waiting on deliveries when you need to do fundamental maintenance. Plus, sometimes you just get that season where the last thing you need is more unnecessary costs thrown your way.
Steel is the one material farmers have relied on for years for durability, longevity and strength, since steel is one of the most sustainable materials around. While Aussie farmers benefit themselves from the use of sturdy steel, the environment also benefits in ways sometimes not even considered. So, what makes steel so sustainable? Here’s just a few reasons why the material is number one for sustainability.
Steel is infinitely recyclable
Ever thought about where your steel came from? Once steel is made, it can be used forever as steel. The waste produced by steel is reusable, and there is no loss of quality when recycling, meaning recycled steel is as good as new. Each year, more steel is recycled than paper, plastic, aluminium, and glass combined in the US. The magnetic properties of steel allow it to be easily separated from other materials, so most steel scrap can be recovered from demolitions or projects where scrap is mixed together. This means any steel produced will last the distance and be infinitely recycled, so the steel you use on your farm has likely had a whole other past life in another structure, product or even another farm.
Using steel is not wasteful
Since steel can continuously be recycled, it means it does not end up in landfill. Materials like wood can only be used limited times before they end up in landfill or incinerated, but steel can be constantly remade into new steel. Steel can be recreated in any shape or form, meaning that no steel goes to waste in projects, since steel can be crafted into the exact specifications needed for the job. In comparison, materials like wood require off-cutting pieces, leaving unusable pieces behind, which often end up as waste. So, you can be proud knowing the steel on your farm won’t just add to a growing dump pile, but can be turned into the next best steel cattle yard or shed for future farmers.
A little goes a long way
Since steel is so strong, it doesn’t take a large amount of the material to support structures in buildings and other construction projects. To put it into perspective, to frame a 2000 square feet house would require around 40 trees using wood, compared to the steel of just six recycled cars. The high strength-to-weight ratio of steel allows steel to provide the same benefits as other materials, but with lighter foundations and structures, due to the lower density and weight of steel. So, you can save money and space on your farm by getting more strength with less material.
It lasts the distance
While other materials are easily prone to damage, steel has an unmatched resilience and strength. Steel does not rot, split, crack, warp, or combust like other materials like timber. Due to its resilience, steel can withstand extreme conditions and disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires, more so than any other materials can. The fact that steel lasts means there is no need for always recreating the material from scratch, meaning less frequent impact on the environment. Steel’s unmatched toughness also means farmers have a long-lasting investment when building with steel, so the focus can be on farming, not maintaining sheds or cattle yards.
It is important us Aussies take care of our home and do our part to protect it. Steel provides countless benefits to our society and farms, and it will continue to provide these benefits long into the future, due to its recyclable nature, durability and longevity. Creating something that does not deplete in quality and can be reused and recycled for future generations describes sustainability perfectly and is exactly what busy farmers need. Steel is certainly a material to be relied on by farmers in moving forward to a sustainable future.
Steel is a hugely popular metal used in residential, commercial or large construction projects. With many suppliers of steel products in the market, it can be overwhelming to choose one for the first time. It is important to do your research and perform due diligence on a company before signing a contract however, this is not always possible through online sources. Asking the right questions of your potential supplier is important and sometimes, the best way to research their credentials.
If you’ve never worked with a metal supplier before, consider the following factors before choosing one:
- Product range
Choose a supplier with a wide product range so that you can have all your steel requirements met instead of sourcing them from different companies. Most suppliers are able to measure, quote and fabricate to order.
- Verified quality
Lots of suppliers make heavy claims about selling high quality products however, these are sometimes not substantiated appropriately. It is important that you check if a supplier’s products have been manufactured to meet Australian standards for steel (ASXXXX). As a potential customer, you can request to see a copy of these product certifications issued by independent agencies.
- Processing equipment
Most customers don’t care to find out about the equipment used to fabricate products however, this is an important factor to consider. Look for suppliers who utilise modern processing equipment and techniques rather than manual fabrication methods as that often means that if you need a replacement product in the future, it will be quickly available.
- Liability insuranceAlways check if your supplier has adequate liability insurance in the event that their products malfunction or do not work. This will cover you for any resulting financial losses.
- Volume rebate
Steel products are often competitively priced so ensure that your suppliers prices are not over the roof. At the same time, incredibly low prices may equate to low quality products, so it is best to get a few quotes off suppliers and compare. Ask for a volume rebate if you’re buying steel or metal products in bulk as suppliers often offer this benefit.
Don’t be shy to question a supplier about their experience in using the products they’re selling. If you’re based in a rural or remote location, ask your supplier if they supply or service that location often. Extreme weather conditions, lengthy delays in delivery and replacement availability are only some of the issues that affect customers in rural areas.
Steel Supplies specialises in servicing remote and rural areas of Queensland and have years of experience in using, supplying, installing and maintaining their products in these areas.
In today’s environment, it is critical for cattle to be handled in areas that provide the least amount of stress possible to avoid any uneasiness to arise. It’s also important to consider placing the cattle in an area in which it is easy to operate for handlers, to ensure safety as much as possible. Steel Supplies Charter Towers builds their cattle handling equipment onsite, to the highest quality standards. In order to exploit the highest benefits and build an effective and stress free cattle handling system, a few methods should be considered.
People It is important for the handlers to remain calm and to resist the urge to panic consistently to avoid terrifying the cattle, and they must also be confident and assertive as cattle can detect fear and hesitation. The handlers must also know that, like us, the cattle have a range of individual space (flight area) around them and if entered by strangers the cattle consider it to be a risk and will move far from it. Learning the flight area guidelines can also be useful to the handlers to control dairy cattle development.
Systems Safe, simple and efficient are terms that should be kept in the handler’s mind when designing their cattle handling system. This will ultimately make the cattle feel comfortable with the handler. Important things to consider are:
- Site – Place the cattle in a flat field to avoid uphill movements.
- Layout – Ensure there is adequate space to maintain a strategic distance from the cattle making sudden, tight turns.
- Orientation – Support the cattle through the handling system by ensuring the exit is back towards the field or home pen.
- Lighting – Cattle are uncomfortable of moving in dark areas so ensure the entire system is sufficiently bright. This also implies working with cattle is less demanding
- Floor: the floor must not be slippery and should also contain a uniform surface as anything distinctive. For example, depleted feeders will capture cows attention, making them stop and examine
- Strong sides – handlers working outside the area will distract the cattle, so they should work in strategic areas where sides are stronger. For example, working at the gate would influence the cattle to gather in there and help the handlers to better control where the livestock is going
- Holding pens – round pens work better as there are no corners for the cattle to stow away in. Pens should never be packed as cows require a lot of space to move into the race
- Race entrance angle – It’s important to have only one straight side and another 30-degree angle
Steel Supplies Charter Towers
- will help you with designing and building the best cattle handling system for your farm.
- on our website,
- at 07 4787 4355 or send us an email at
ENTERPRISING Charters Towers businessman Peter Doonan has survived a trifecta of floods, change of government and recession in the early years of his new business, pulling through to celebrate his company’s seventh birthday this month.
The Steel Supplies Charters Towers (SSCT) founder and entrepreneur heads regional and rural Australia’s leading supplier of steel products for the cattle industry, with a wide range of supplies from cattle handling products to steel shed fabrication.
Today, the company continues to progress strongly despite its rough beginnings, with Mr Doonan taking great pride in his survival in the challenging downturn.
“The timing of everything all at once was tough, especially because steel and most commodities were high-priced,” Mr Doonan said.
“That was a telling time for the industry; a lot of steel businesses went broke then. We were challenged as well, as business basically stopped for an entire month, but we hung in there even if it meant having to sell our steel under cost,” he said.
“Luckily, we had enough surplus stock and a bit of cash left over, so I made a decision to sell that steel as quickly as I could. After losing money for a few months, we started making profits again in about six to eight weeks.
“We also diversified our variety, with a number of options in terms of price and quality. This gave us a point of difference instead of selling the same stock as our competitors.”
While other companies folded during the recession, SSCT flourished and grew its business before eventually moving to its new and improved Flinders Highway premises 12 months ago.
Mr Doonan invests heavily in his staff and their development, saying he believes in employing people like himself, despite the possible personality clashes.
“We are so proud to have continued expanding during the recession and keeping our business – during the tough times, we never put a staff member off due to lack of work.
“There is always work, and we’re always busy. This is because we went from selling cattle gear to cattle yard designs, then branched out into implementing the equipment and putting it together.
“At the end of the day, our staff members are happy to go the extra mile and provide that extra service, which has been a great help to surviving the recession.”
Currently boasting 600 repeat clients and 3000 customers since its foundation, SSCT has fostered a strong customer service culture as Mr Doonan trained his staff to offer the best service available.
Each staff member has a background in the cattle industry regardless of whether they work in administration or trades – the SSCT team has combined industry experience spanning more than 200 years.
“Our big hurdle was finding strong sales and administration staff, but now we have a strong team.
“Business also varies according to the time of year – it’s usually quite slow over the rainy season so we do have to keep our sales team motivated and pepped up as well.
“That said, we’ll always have ups and downs in our cash flow, staff and consistency at work, as it’s all so dependent on the government and weather conditions.”
As business peaks and troughs, Mr Doonan has learnt to be proactive in his customer service, capitalising on business leads even during a lull.
Traditionally, the months from December to March are sluggish for SSCT. There was also a spike in cancellations after negative coverage of live cattle exports.
“Everything has to be timed so we make enough profit to carry on over the next six months with the wet season – that’s when we follow up with our customers to stay at the forefront of their minds.
“Also, even though we’re based in Charters Towers, we’re delivered stock to Western Australia and Tasmania, which people are really pleased with.
“We want our clients to feel like they can ring up and be comfortable they’re getting the right advice for the right price and good efficient service.”
Mr Doonan’s basis for staff support and customer service was fostered throughout his 10 years’ prior experience in the steel and fabrication industry.
Formerly working with a corporate steel company, he soon grew disillusioned with management and decided to go his own way in the region.
After finding his niche in the cattle industry, he aimed for simplicity in his new venture with much success.
“I saw that my work had become too corporate, sacrificing staff and customer service – things had become too complex and they weren’t customer-orientated any more. “The business ran on reports and lost their focus on staff and customers, so I decided that the time was right for me to leave.
“To me, my own business had to be started simply; I aimed for good service and turned us into an efficient one-stop shop where customers were coming into the yard, doing their business and being loaded and gone in 20 to 30 minutes.
“When you work for a big company which shies away from letting managers grow their sales, it really does suffer from a loss of loyalty.”
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