on the farm has become increasingly important over the past few years, with
serious injuries and occasionally farmer deaths recorded while working with
cattle of all breeds. For this reason
alone it is worthwhile looking at your cattle handling facilities. Apart from safety issues, cattle yards make
many routine tasks so much easier:
tagging, drenching, vetting, weaning – the list goes on. If you don’t have a set of yards it is recommended
that you consider adding them to your property.
It will add value to your “patch” as well as cutting down cattle
handling time, and give peace of mind when it comes to close encounters with your
cattle, no matter what breed.
are many designs of cattle yards but for those who struggle with what to do and
where to start, we make the following comments.
We (and, as appropriate, our vet) use our yards to halter train and for
first-leading exercises, pregnancy testing, weighing, drenching, vaccinating,
treating occasional mastitis, de-horning, castrating, nose-ringing of bulls, ear
tagging, TB testing, and helping a new calf to drink/mothering on. It sounds as though we have quite a lot of
problems with our cattle: we don’t, but
it only takes one or two animals with “special needs” to cause a headache
without proper facilities.
our own vet advises that he will not now send any of his staff to treat animals
on a client’s property unless he knows that proper and safe facilities are
available as he is required to provide a safe work-place for his staff.
there are many configurations for yards, the practical minimum requirement for
a small number of animals is one pen and a short race long enough to
accommodate one full grown animal, and fitted with a headbale. A headbale is
not absolutely necessary, but it makes a huge difference on the odd occasion
when we need to secure an animal. A
cattle loading race is usually desirable as well.
race needs to be 700-750mm wide, and the preferred height ranging 1500mm and
1650mm (1500 seems quite adequate). The
length of a race should be 2000mm for the first animal and 1500mm for each
additional animal. Remember that cattle
don’t like to make sharp turns unless they know they are coming out into a wide
space, so try to have cattle move into the race from a straight-on position.
number of companies specialize in manufacturing componentry for stockyards, and
we suggest you check these out and perhaps visit other Highland Cattle breeders
and discuss yards with them before you start building.
are a variety of theories on how to accommodate the horns in the race, with
some having one side built higher than the other and some having “staggered”
posts. Others have about three solid
boards around horn-height so the horns can’t become stuck, however the cattle
like to be able to see around them. We
have found that given a bit of time, Highlanders will figure out for themselves
how to position their horns to get through the race, but it is really helpful
to get young cattle used to going through a race before their horns grow long. A walkway on the outside of the race allows
safer handling for drenching and vaccinating – easy for the handyman to knock
We chose the Prattley headbale because it seemed to us to offer better access
for horned cattle and we thought that opening in a vee would help to dissuade
animals from taking a dive through – this has proved to be the case; in
handling our cattle for a myriad of reasons, our headbale has proved to be
Before building yards, have a good look around, check with farmers who have yards and ask how if they would make any changes if they were building a new set. Pay particular attention to where you site them as well. You will never regret investing in good cattle handling facilities.