Best Cattle Corral Designs

Elaine Sutton
• Tuesday, 29 December, 2020
• 7 min read

All the designs take advantage of the behavioral principles of animals wanting to go back to where they came from. A common mistake is to install too many backstops or make the pivot points too low for tall animals.

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Backstops that are hinged on the top are preferable because they are usually easier to hold open and then close after cattle or sheep pass through. This enables a person who is located in the crowd pen area to hold the gate open for the animals.

The best chute and corral designs use the behavioral principle of cattle, sheep and other livestock wanting to go back to where they came from. Round tub systems take advantage of the natural tendency of cattle to circle around the stock person.

Simple, efficient designs for sheep and goats utilize full- or half-circle round tubs. Jason Houston Many commercially available single-file or double-file chutes are designed so that they can be adjusted for different size cattle.

Another option is to have two chutes with stationary sides, one for adult cows and another for calves or sheep. The disadvantage is that large cows from breeds that have really wide bodies may have difficulty walking through them.

The pasture entrance is positioned to take advantage of the natural behavior of cattle to return to where they came from. The handler works the animal’s flight zone and point of balance along the fences of the inside area.

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The sample designs shown below are provided as inspiration for your own cattle corral plans. So, while each sample provides a possible solution we recommend you contact Hi-Hog to assist you in developing a corral plan that works specifically for you.

If you’re calling from within mainland North America you can reach Hi-Hog toll free at 1-800-661-7002 (Monday to Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm MST). Weighing, one-person sorting, low OST fences...

We can: Save you Money, Reduce Labor Needs, Reduce Stress, Safety Features and Handle larger numbers with ease. I built one of your yards (corrals) 10 years ago, and I still get a buzz out of working in them.

Allowing cattle to become stressed can reduce weight gains, milk production, feed efficiency and disease immunity. Cattle stress is reduced by using proper handling techniques and facilitated with corrals designed for smooth animal flow.

“ Corral design should allow working cattle by their natural flow,” stated Ron Gill with Texas Airline Extension Service. If the next open gate is adjacent to the one you just closed, cattle will naturally flow through it without being pressured, because that is the direction they want to go.

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“A good corral design allows sorting from the squeeze chute without disrupting the flow of cattle entering the working area,” Raymond Hunk and Sam Harp wrote in Texas Agricultural Extension Service Bulletin BCM-49. “Pens interconnected with a common alleyway accessed from the squeeze chute provide ideal sorting capabilities.

The decision of whether to use a Bud Box or a tub for a crowding pen is basically a matter of personal preference. Williams used it on a ranch he managed and has since built and promoted Bud Boxes for ranchers willing to work cattle using the techniques he taught.

Temple Gran din of Colorado State University says that a round crowd pen or tub needs to be designed for taking advantage of cattle’s tendency to go back in the same direction from which they came. To accomplish this, the crowd pen is built in a 180-degree arc, which makes cattle think they are going back to their point of entry.

“Although solid sides are common on Bud Boxes and tubs, I prefer that only the lower halves be covered,” Gill states. Open-top halves allow cattle to see the handler on the opposite side of the fence where he controls flow.

Like the Bud Box or tub, it is better to use half-panels to cover the bottom of the crowd alley sides than building complete solid walls. To take advantage of a cow’s natural instinct, the crowd alley initially needs to be straight for at least two cow-lengths.

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The person working the crowd alley can walk directly across from the tub or box to the squeeze chute without stopping cattle flow. Gill feels that the curved crowd alley was adopted because people think cattle like to move in a circle.

It takes advantage of the natural circling behavior of cattle and sheep. Drawings: Basic Cattle Layout : Curved systems work more efficiently.

Cattle, sheep, pigs and other animals flow more easily through this type of system. Basic Forcing Pen Plan : This design is recommended for ranches and feedlots, it features a truck loading ramp and single file chute which work from a round forcing pen.

It is recommended for ranches and other operations where cattle or other animals are sorted by weight, body condition, breed etc. This is ideal for use with electronic tagging and identification systems. Meat Plant Restricted Space Serpentine Handling System Restricted Space Layout for Ranches and Feedlots Corral for 150 Cow and Calf Pairs Basic 3-Way Gate System for Cattle Yards and Corrals : This system eliminates sharp corners where two alleys intersect.

Half Circle Crowd Pen : With straight staging area for cattle in feedlots or slaughter plants. The largest collection of corral and rodeo examples on the internet by Ted Kate.

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Sample Designs of Cattle Races and Corrals Revised September 2020 As the animals go around the curve, they think they are going back to where they came from. It takes advantage of the natural circling behavior of cattle and sheep.

If the single file race is bent too sharply where it joins the crowd pen the cattle may refuse to enter because it looks like a dead end. Cattle standing in the round crowd pen must be able to see a minimum of three body lengths up the single file chute before the curve begins.

If the single file race is bent too sharply where it joins the crowd pen, the pigs may refuse to enter. The round crowd pen will work most efficiently if it is a full half circle, 180 degrees.

A full half circle takes advantage of the natural tendency of cattle to go back to where they came from. The serpentine design with 2 180 degree curves should only be used in places where space is restricted.

It is a mistake to design many multiple curves into the single file race. Cattle and pigs will pile up if a crowd pen is built on a ramp.

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Continuous flow systems with shackles attached to a chain conveyor for pigs or sheep: The crowd pen is a full half circle to take advantage of the natural tendency of cattle to go back to where they came from.

To reduce costs, catwalks along the sides of the single file chute have been eliminated. The inner fences are partially open, so a person can work the flight zone while walking on the ground.

The handler should only enter this area when they need to move cattle into the squeeze chute. Another option with this design is to make all the fences completely solid and install catwalks.

More information and step-by-step instructions for building curved livestock handling facilities is in the book, Humane Livestock Handling, by Temple Gran din and Mark Deeming, published by Story Publishing, North Adams, MA, USA. A single handler can easily move cattle by working the point of balance.

This area is entered to move cattle and then people MUST back up and remove themselves form the animal's flight zone. If less skilled handlers will be using this design, the installation of an inner solid side and catwalk will facilitate cattle movement.

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In this position, the bubble formed by the collective flight zone facilitates movement into the single file race. The design of the curved race enables the handler to always be positioned along the inner radius.

For less skilled handlers who do not understand flight zone principles completely, solid sides are recommended. The handler should take advantage of natural following behavior by waiting until the single file race has space in it before filling the crowd pen.

One handler works the inner radius of the curved single file race. Temple Gran din yard demo at Beef Works (YouTube Video): Video showing handling in a chute with a solid outer fence and an open inner fence.

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