Are you handling you livestock correctly?
Handling livestock the wrong way can cost you dearly. Not only can it cause you to lose hours of your valuable time, but it can also cost you through the reduced saleability of your product.
In recent studies, the stress imposed by improper handling had a more significant detrimental effect on the animal’s physiology than the stress of feed and water deprivation for the same length of time. Dark cutting alone costs the beef industry $36 Million a year.
Poorly designed livestock handling systems are a key driver of improper handling and are the leading cause of livestock-related workplace injuries. The most critical factors when building these systems are the design of the yard, its construction, and a proper focus on safety for the operator and the animal. Any of these factors will lead to improper handling if not given due attention.
These are the three ways inadequate yard systems cause problems, and what you can do to solve it:
First, poorly designed yard layouts prevent livestock from smoothly flowing through the system. Square yards, straight races, and incorrectly designed forcing yards all contribute to the inefficiency of a yard system. While straightforward rectangular designs might look good on paper, they often go against the grain of natural animal behaviour. Livestock are calmed by sweeping, curving movement that makes them feel like they are returning to where they started. Something as simple as changing a yard’s layout from a square to a circular design has been proven to increase efficiency by a noticeable amount, as the cattle flow through calmly and quietly.
The second reason subpar yard systems cost you money is through poor construction. Lightly constructed yards with inferior materials can increase animal and operator stress because of poor lighting and visibility, excess noise, and of course rust or related damage harming animals and operators. Stockyards are a long-term investment (50-100 years), and inferior construction will not only cost you in the day to day operation but also in the lifetime cost of maintaining and/or replacing inferior systems, which can be very expensive.
The third and most crucial way inferior yard systems will affect your operation is through a lack of safety. Low quality and poorly designed yards can become serious safety risks for both the livestock moving through and for the yard operators. Sharp features like protruding bolts or bent and broken low-quality panels can cause physical harm. Moreover, a poorly designed layout can disrupt animals’ temperament, making them dangerous to manage. Additionally, a lack of safety features, like sliding draft gates, animal-free zones, or ratcheting force gates, can also increase the risk posed to those trying to manage the livestock.
Thankfully, the majority of the problems are easily solved by better quality yard systems with attention to detail that optimises design.
When it comes to creating well-designed yard systems, the Arrowquip team continually find themselves coming back to the same single point. If this one thing is taken care of during the design and manufacture of yard systems, it will lead to better yards that make livestock handling easier, quicker, smoother, and safer. This single idea is at the core of every product and system we design and build, and is simple to understand;
The more the system decreases the stress placed on livestock, the better that system will work.
This philosophy of creating products that facilitate low-stress livestock handling is the underlying core ideal beneath everything we do at Arrowquip.
By learning, researching and building upon existing knowledge about natural animal behaviour, it is possible to create systems that dramatically reduce operator workload, while increasing overall efficiency. Our patented Bud Flow forcing yard is an example of this. The well-researched and proven Bud Flow design calms cattle and keeps them moving forward. Then, with operator safety in mind, the addition of a ratcheting lock on the crowd-gate prevents cattle from pushing the gate back. Even simple additions like a sliding gate behind the crush can improve efficiency by preventing cattle form backing up the race, and save you time and money.
But the safest and most efficient crush, or forcing yard, or curved race, won’t make too big of a difference if it is added to a set of mediocre or poor yards. The important thing, when it comes to reducing stress for your stock, is having a holistic view of yard design. You need to ensure that every step is working to your advantage, from the pens and forcing yard, to the crush and out the draft.
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