Top 5 tips for choosing a portable cattle chute
By Dana Charban
Choosing a new cattle chute can be a difficult task when so many options are available to producers. Whether you are seeking a stationary chute that is budget-friendly or a fully portable cattle chute, alley and tub handling system, there are a number of key considerations that can make your decision easier. Squeeze chutes can be challenging enough, but portables are an even more complex product that require specific questions to be asked.
If you work your cattle in many locations, a portable cattle chute or handling system is an excellent addition to your operation. It allows you to bring the equipment to your cattle and can prove to be a great investment over time. Portable handling systems and squeeze chutes are available in a variety of configurations, styles and price points. Here are five considerations to help you choose the best cattle chute upgrade for your ranch.
- Determine what components really need to be portable.
- The simplest version of a portable cattle handling system is to simply add a wheel kit or trailer to your chute. This works great for operations that have partial handling systems in many places, or if you want to store your chute in a barn for longevity.
- Cattle chute and alley duos are popular among veterinarians as it allows them to use equipment they are comfortable with to process cattle, and can be added to their clients’ existing systems easily.
- Full portable cattle handling systems with alleys and tubs are a great solution for producers who work cattle with a portable corral. Recent developments from the Arrowquip Innovations team have made 18-foot alleys an option for portables, something never seen in the industry before. A too-short alley can drastically impact cattle flow, so this improvement has been a game changer.
- Easy transport makes all the difference.
- An 8-feet-wide tub overhang is standard in the industry, but towing a portable unit can be a hassle with a tub that is wider than the vehicle you are towing it with. Consider a unit with a collapsible tub, as it can significantly improve how well your unit tows.
- Arrowquip’s Innovations team recently introduced a new model of portable with an 18-foot alley and 8-foot collapsible cattle tub that not only tows within the wheel track, but the redesigned collapsible tub makes the unit shorter and easier to tow than any model before.
- Consider your set-up and tear down time.
- It is important to keep the efficiency of the equipment you are purchasing in mind. A portable system is only as good as its weakest link, and for many systems the biggest issue is the amount of time it takes to set up and tear down the equipment. Ideally, you should be able to set up your handling system and portable corrals to be ready to process cattle in less than one hour. If you are using a portable cattle chute or chute and alley duo, it should be ready to work within minutes.
- Hydraulic or electric powered jacks are an additional investment, but can be highly beneficial as they limit the amount of manual work required by the operator and can drastically speed up set-up and tear-down times. When you consider your time savings, the investment can quickly pay off.
- Look for quality and structural integrity.
- Portable cattle handling systems need to be built with high-quality parts and steel to withstand the stress the equipment will be under on the road, and when working cattle. Look for a heavy-duty steel frame designed for structural integrity that can withstand the stress of towing.
- Make sure the chute is the right fit for the job.
- No matter what is leading up to it, experienced cattle producers know that efficiency boils down to what happens in the chute. If your cattle are reluctant to enter because the chute is dark and intimidating, or if you can’t access your animals properly to complete your management tasks, your processing efficiency will come to a screeching halt the moment your livestock reach the chute.
- Low-stress cattle handling principles are just as important in portable handling equipment as they are in stationary equipment.
- Portable handling equipment can be just as quiet as stationary equipment when it is designed properly.
The Cattle Equipment Chute-Out, which takes place annually at the Cattle Raisers Convention and Expo, is a great opportunity for cattle producers to see the latest product releases and innovations in the cattle industry up close and personal. Seeing the equipment with live cattle running through it is a true demonstration of the capability of a piece of equipment and can make or break your decision to purchase a piece of equipment. Not sure if it’s something you want to tune into? Check out this video of the Chute-Out and what you can expect to see in a cattle chute demo.
Whether you are looking for a standalone chute to add to your stationary system, or a portable cattle chute with alley and tub, it is important to look at the needs of your operation and the tasks you need to complete. The Cattle Chute Buyer’s Guide is a resource that can help you determine what model of cattle chute is right for your needs.
Dana Charban is the content manager for Arrowquip.