Designing the Perfect Cattle Loading Ramp
The importance in an efficient loading ramp can have lasting effects on both the profitability of a farm and the quality of cattle. Refining and considering all the design elements that impact its functionality is an important step and cannot be undervalued when designing a cattle yard. Cattle loading ramps allow cattle to depart and arrive from farms in a safe and efficient manner, minimising the labour required from a farmer and stress upon the cattle.
There are many design elements that go into creating a good loading ramp to align with your farm’s unique needs. Involving an experienced cattle handling equipment company in the design process is crucial to see no unturned stone, and farmers obtain the most value possible from their investment.
The positioning of cattle ramps in relation to paddocks, access roads and cattle crush is an important consideration to minimise labour costs and total time cattle spend in the cattle yard. When cattle are placed into a yard, their stress levels immediately increase since the conditions are often crammed and do not reflect the open green paddocks they prefer. Reducing the time cattle spend in the yard correlates with the stress they endure, which directly impacts the quality of meat produced.
While many design intricacies can be altered to improve cattle handling efficiency, two elements are the most important. First, cattle loading ramps should be positioned in areas that are easy for trucks to reverse into. This will decrease the time cattle have to wait in the yard as they wait for a truck to reverse in. By having the loading ramp in an easily accessible position, opportunities arise for larger trucks to be used when transporting cattle, thereby reducing freight costs.
The second key element for the positioning of the cattle loading ramp is to have the cattle loading ramp, cattle crush, and paddocks positioned in a straight line with the shortest distance between them. As cattle are weighed before they depart a farm, the positioning of the cattle crush is an important consideration. By minimising the number of times cattle need to be herded around corners and total time spent in the yard, farmers will keep cattle stress to a minimum. Ensuring these three elements are in as straight and short of a line as possible, total time and herding around corners will be kept to a minimum.
Single Level or Dual Level
Farms that manage a large number of cattle or trade large volumes should consider a dual-level cattle loading ramp system, enabling more cattle to be transported at one time as well as decreasing handling labour costs and total freight costs in the long term.
On the flip side, if farms are not looking to grow or trade a large number of cattle, investing in a dual-level cattle ramp will be an inefficient use of money as farmers will not use it for its intended value.
An evaluation of a farm’s size and trading patterns is needed to determine if an investment in a dual-level loading ramp is necessary and worthwhile.
Width of Cattle Loading Ramp
A cattle loading ramp’s width is an important element in the efficient loading and unloading of cattle through the process. Aligning the width of the loading ramp to the type of cattle that are normally processed allows cattle to remain in single file and with minimal assistance required from farmers.
If the width of a cattle loading ramp is too narrow, cattle will struggle to fit through, and will endure a larger amount of stress as farmers have to push them through physically. On the contrary, if cattle loading ramps are too wide, cattle may try to push past each other and get stuck, which again requires pushing and handling from farmers.
Every cattle loading ramp has an incline which is different. Many elements will impact the required incline needed for the ramp, each of which needs to be carefully considered to design an efficient cattle loading ramp.
Studies have shown that long steps are the easiest way to move cattle to a higher elevation using the least area. Steps at least 450mm long with a raise no higher than 100mm will allow for the most efficient loading. Long and shallow steps do not become obvious to the eye of the cattle and therefore are perceived to be a natural incline.
Since a large number of cattle move through the loading ramps in a very short period, it’s important to ensure that the materials and design provide enough grip to prevent cattle from falling over. If a cow falls over in the loading ramp and injures themselves, cattle will become distressed and removing cattle from the ramp will be a timely exercise. By ensuring that water can escape from the ramp, farmers can easily clear manure and dirt build-up without making the steps slippery.
Sliding Gate at Ramp Exit
Having a sliding gate at the ramp exit, in addition to a gate at the bottom of the ramp acts as a second firewall. If a cow was to accidentally make it past the first gate with nothing stopping them, they could potentially be pushed off the end by other cattle without a truck being there.
Having another gate at the end of a loading ramp also allows farmers to have a second chance at separating a pair of cows who got through the gate when only one was intended. This second opportunity to separate cattle is especially important when a set amount of cattle should be allowed into one area.
Even if all the other design elements have been carefully considered and cattle are progressing through the ramp in a single file, things can still go wrong and disrupt the process. Incorporating features that allow for easy access for both farmers and cattle is important to ensure that a bad situation does not worsen.
Having a walkway alongside the cattle ramp is a useful feature that should be incorporated to allow farmers to aid the process. Platforms beside the cattle ramp will also allow a farmer to easily operate the second gate at the end ramp.
Having one or two access gates throughout the ramp will allow farmers to remove cattle from the race should a situation require. If there are no cattle exits and a cow falls over, the only way for a cow to be cleared out is to remove the truck and push it through the end. Situations like these can be costly both in terms of cattle stress and total time to clear out the blockage.
It’s important to understand that the design of a cattle loading ramp is unique to a farm’s needs and creates an efficient flow of cattle between the yard to trucks. Steel Supplies Charters Towers is specialised in designing and creating the highest-quality cattle handling equipment. If your farm wants to purchase a new cattle loading ramp, speak to our experienced team today.