cattle race

How To Create The Perfect Cattle Race

The cattle race is arguably one of the most important parts of a cattle yard, ensuring safety, cattle handling efficiency and minimising stress. There are many different design elements that go into a successful cattle race, with many dependent on the type of farm, the natural behaviour of cattle, the type of cattle being processed and the main purpose of the yard.

Involving an experienced company in the process is an invaluable experience. It ensures farmers obtain the most out of their expensive investment and that their farm is set up to succeed through the upcoming seasons. Here are some, but not limited to, design elements that should be incorporated into a cattle race for safe and efficient handling.


  1. Design A Cow Friendly Race

It goes without saying that if you don’t like it, a cow probably won’t like it. Your cattle race should be developed and designed with a cow’s perspective in mind and avoid certain design elements that scare them or discourage them from moving forward.

The shape of a race is a large factor in making the process easier for the cattle and less frightening. Cattle do not like to see dead ends or sharp turns, they prefer gentle turns that easily indicate the direction of travel.


  1. Ensure Adequate Footing

A cattle race is a very high traffic area, and with heavy use, hundreds upon hundreds of cattle move through the same area in a day. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that the ground in the race is free of mud so that cattle can easily pass through without stumbling. Having a secure footing with lots of grip plays a large role in keeping the stress of cattle low throughout the process.

Due to the high number of cattle moving through the race, manure is likely to build up over a short period. Therefore, having adequate drainage off to the side or underneath will be useful when using a hose to clear build up. Without adequate drainage, any attempt to clear manure from the race can create puddles of water, thereby making it even more slippery for cattle.


  1. Cattle Race Width

The width of a cattle race is a complicated design feature to master. Since cattle over their lives have different widths and sizes depending on their age, designing a perfect cattle race for all ages is extremely hard. If a cattle race is too wide, cattle will not efficiently sort into a single file and finding two abreast in the race may become more common. By comparison, if a cattle race is too narrow, more effort will be needed from cattle to proceed through the structure – playing a large role in increasing the stress of cattle throughout the process.

To solve this problem, involving an experienced company to perfectly design the width of your race against the size of your cattle will be extremely beneficial. By using two races in a cattle yard, being a calf race and a cattle race, efficiency will increase with processing calves and cattle, as no compromises in design have occurred.


  1. Put A Slight Incline On The Race

It is a well-known fact that cattle are more encouraged to walk uphill than they are going downhill. With this knowledge, when building a cattle yard, it is recommended to build up the ground underneath the cattle race first, with the cattle crush being the highest point in the yard. When it is said to build up the ground underneath, it should only be done in small amounts, as this will make the process more natural and decrease the stress upon cattle through the yard.

By building the race on an incline, water will drain from the race much easier and allow farmers to clear manure, mud or dirt build-up in a manner that is safe for the cattle.


  1. Use Gates

Using multiple gates in a long race is extremely beneficial to prevent any problem a farmer may have with crush from flowing back down the line. Cattle are natural herders and will commonly react if another cow reacts to something or becomes scared. When a cow becomes scared and looks to take steps backwards, the reaction is likely to be mimicked by the cow behind it. Using gates through strategic points in the race will minimise how far cattle can push back and make it easier for farmers to push up cattle who are scared.

It is also recommended that additional sliding gates be used leading into the crush if you have designed a cattle race that is wide enough to accommodate adult cattle but are currently moving young cattle through. This is because smaller cattle are more likely to be two-abreast in the race and should be divided before the crush to prevent a re-run.


  1. Keep A Direct Line Of Sight

Keeping a direct line of sight between the farmer and the cattle is important for many reasons. Firstly, if something were to go wrong in the race, ensuring that farmers can respond quickly is important for minimising the stress upon cattle and ensuring the safety of farmers.

Another key reason is that the easiest way to encourage cattle to move forward is to move from their front line of sight to their behind. For this herding technique to work effectively, cattle must see where a farmer is positioned throughout the process. Strategically positioning closed sides and open sides are important to make the herding process as efficient as possible.


  1. Contingency Plan 

Not everything always goes to plan in a cattle yard. Sometimes cattle fall over, sometimes cattle manage to jump over a fence, or even break equipment. It’s these experiences that should be considered in the design of a cattle yard. Creating escape gates that allow cattle to exit halfway in the race and panels that can be easily removed are important for not making a bad situation worse.


A cattle race is one of the most technical and important elements of a cattle yard to master and should be designed with the involvement of experienced craftsmen. Steel Supplies Charters Towers is one of Australia’s most experienced in designing efficient, safe and affordable cattle races, with almost two decades of experience.

If your farm wants to design a new cattle yard and maximise investment, speak to our professional team at Steel Supplies Charters Towers today.