The Importance Of A Cattle Yard Design To The Natural Flow Of Cattle
The design of a cattle yard is arguably one of the most important elements to reducing the stress upon cattle and also in developing high-quality livestock. There are many small elements in the design, choice of materials, and size that reduce the stress upon cattle. Involving an experienced company in the design process enables Australian farmers to design a cattle yard that will last decades.
Here are some of the main design elements that should be incorporated into cattle yard design and their respective impact on your livestock.
Developing a cattle yard with curved pens is one of the most effective way to reduce cattle stress. Cattle pens with sharp corners increase the probability of cattle feeling like they are walking into a dead-end, getting confused, and therefore getting stressed. A curved pen will allow cattle to naturally flow from one end of a pen to the other without getting confused or trapped in the process.
While the effects of a curved pen upon the stress of cattle have been clearly illustrated through years of experience, maximising space and allowing walkways between pens still present a challenge. Involving an experienced company with the expertise in designing cattle yards will see a curved design incorporated into your cattle yard without compromising functionality and ease of access.
It goes without saying that if cattle are forced into small pens, then they are more likely to be stressed and claustrophobic throughout the process. Cattle prefer to graze in open fields with large amounts of space – a cattle yard represents the very opposite.
The recommended size for a cattle yard pen rests upon numerous factors. For instance, the number of cattle you plan to put in each pen is dependent on the length of your race, the number of cattle your farm has, the amount of space available on the farm, and how many pens are available. It’s important for farmers looking to construct a perfect cattle yard design to lay out all the variables that both impact the stress upon the cattle and maximise farmer efficiency.
Organised Flow Of Cattle
A cattle yard design that reduces stress upon cattle comes down to much more than pen size and shape. Since being pushed through a yard is unnatural to cattle, limiting the amount of time in-between yard and pen is important to reducing the total stress. While cattle being in a yard may not be overly stressful, evidence of prolonged confinement may be reflected in the quality of cattle.
Farmers looking to build an efficient cattle yard should lay out all the key tasks they look to use their cattle yard for, with expected herd size, pen size and the available number of pens to position equipment and optimise pen flow accordingly. These designs should aim to minimise the total amount of time spent in the cattle yard.
By example, if you have one group of cattle you are pushing through a yard, and at the same point every year you dredge them, then put them through a dip. The two pieces of equipment should be ordered in a way that minimises the time between the two, and minimises the number of pen changes and herding from farmers. Cattle yard designs that better incorporate the flow of cattle through their yard, generally have inbound and outbound areas, whereby the entry and exit to the yard are on opposite sides. This lessens the total distance travelled and changes the number of times farmers are needed to push cattle in and out of pens.
To make a cattle yard feel as comfortable as possible for cattle, the environment within the yard needs to be as natural as possible. Dust plays a large role in making the process more uncomfortable for cattle, as they may struggle to see. Mud is another factor that can add to the stress throughout their handling as they can feel stuck and struggle to move.
Incorporating natural materials into the design of the cattle yard, such as stone and installing correct drainage to minimise water on the ground can play a large role in making the cattle yard comfortable.
It’s easy for farmers to focus on other big-ticket items such as feed quality and paddock design to improve the quality of cattle, but minimising the stress endured in cattle-yards is also important. Steel Supplies Charters Towers has decades of experience designing cattle yards, allowing Australian farmers to produce and grow cattle of the highest quality. If you or your farm are looking to construct a new cattle yard or improve an existing yard to reduce stress, speak to our friendly team today.