So after a few months of blood, sweat, tears, blisters, two excavators, two tractors, a bobcat, a crane, LOTS more gravel, having to build the race section three times and a whole list of expletives, I can now finally say that we have a brand new set of cattle yards installed on the farm. Hurrah!
It took a while to get to this stage. Previously this same site was occupied by an old set of yards that came with the property. These were a mish-mash of old, broken, rusty sheep/cattle yards that really weren’t practical to use. We ran the cattle through them a few times out of pure necessity, but are really glad they have gone.
We debated where the best site for our yards was going to be and chose the same area as it was the ‘flattest’ spot on the property, with access for a small cattle truck. Now I say flat very loosely because, frankly, nowhere is. We ended up having to do some ground works to level the site to a gentle 4% slope. You can see just how far off level was in the picture below when we got the fancy laser level out..
The yards have been designed with animal welfare in mind. They are as curved as possible to give the cattle the sense that they are moving back to where they came from. Research suggests that this helps to calm stock and they will move more quietly through a yard system. We also incorporated a few nifty things into the set-up, like a 90 degree rotary force, a three-way drafter and yard panels with wider bars to prevent/reduce bruising if the cattle bash against them.
Our crush was selected with a parallel squeeze, semen collection and needle gates, a chin bar and load bars to weigh the cattle. A parallel squeeze will be particularly effective at immobilising young stock and preventing them from turning around in the crush. This should minimise any damage to horn buds and prevent wonky horn growths in the future.
There is still some work left to do – fencing around the yards and painting all the panels in order to preserve them for longer. We are currently debating what shade of green is best.
Looking forward to putting the stock through for the first time!