Cattle coral system

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Does anyone have any advice when building a new coral system/ catch pen? I have a Priefert 135 degree tub and sweep w/ alley that i'll use with my squeeze chute. I have gone back and forth on ideas for catch pen set up, etc... Just can't decide on one yet.

I believe I will do a 40X60 heavy use area with crush and run.
 
I prefer to have a separate partial lane built that adjoins with the other lane/chute gate when it opens so that if you've pushed them around to the "feeding side" you can just push them down and do any extra sorting or whatever in an area where they can only go one of two ways, and only one without going through you. Gives you an extra fence to jump on if a chute-shy animal turns on you, too. I prefer the squeeze chute or head gate/catch to be located as to allow for release back into the pasture or staging area so they destress faster.
 
Use the heavy portable corral panels (the ones that weigh 600-800# apiece)! Don't invest in anything permanently installed in the ground. Take them wherever you want/need them, whenever you need them. Change the plan/configuration anytime you want to. Buy them new, and in 10-15 years, they'll still be worth nearly what you put into them... how many fixed position corral systems can you say that for?

Beyond that, I built a portable 28' double alley this year... not adjustable width, but since using it, we absolutely haven't seen a need for that... must have gotten the design right on the first go-round. Lanes are 29" wide between the rails, but then I installed double high guard rail along the bottom on each side of both lanes, so that gets it down to about 20" at the bottom. We've run everything through except newborn calves, and have never had a single one turn around in it... didn't even try. Not having it adjustable width then allowed me to put gates along the outer sides of each alley. Primary idea there was like if a cow would get down in the alley, I could get her out of there. And that works... but we found that they also come in handy for sorting, etc., too. I wanted this alley portable so I could take it to any pasture I wanted whenever too... My squeeze chute has wheels to go under it as well. On the back end entrance to the double lane, I make a Bud Box (12' wide x 24' deep) with the heavy portable panels and a few gates. Works great... I can pretty easily keep up loading the alley with three guys working the chute.

We normally only use one of the lanes, because I can easily keep up with the guys up front... so I just use the other lane for sorting off an animal that will need special care, to take care of when it's convenient, or like if I have a bunch of calves in the Bud Box after running the cows in, I'll load them into the other lane, and they'll let them out when they get to them. They don't interfere with the flow of the primary focus that way.

My point is, you don't NEED a double lane, if the lane is set up for really good flow. But a longer lane, like I have, vs. what most have as a "portable system", is going to help your flow out alot more than a short lane, where you can only have one animal in the lane ahead of your chute. Using one side only, I usually will load 3-4 at a time into the lane, and I can have another two or three waiting in the "lane" made with the crowd gates in the Bud Box (the yellow gates in the pic below). The "flow" is always best if there's one critter in the lane ahead of them.... they just jump right in then. Slows it down a little if the lane is completely empty when you want to load it. So THAT'S why you want to have a lane longer than just one animal... and multiples of that is better yet.


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We do embryo work, so we end up running the whole herd through a few times on each series... This whole thing gets wheels under it, and hauls like a trailer.
 
It definitely can be, but even if I knew I wanted a corral set up permanently, I'd still opt to build it using the heavy portable panels. They'll always retain their value, unless they become so common that nobody wants/needs them anymore... or if cattle growing has been replaced with the "Inedible Burger"!
 
Does anyone have any advice when building a new coral system/ catch pen? I have a Priefert 135 degree tub and sweep w/ alley that i'll use with my squeeze chute. I have gone back and forth on ideas for catch pen set up, etc... Just can't decide on one yet.

I believe I will do a 40X60 heavy use area with crush and run.
My only advice is to be sure to make your chutes narrower than you think looks right. I've seen way too many chutes that cattle can turn around in because they are too wide.

I wonder if there are any designs on line from Temple Grandin? I've seen some of her work and... it works.
 
It definitely can be, but even if I knew I wanted a corral set up permanently, I'd still opt to build it using the heavy portable panels. They'll always retain their value, unless they become so common that nobody wants/needs them anymore... or if cattle growing has been replaced with the "Inedible Burger"!
My personal opinion is that a good set of permanent pens adds to the sale value of land and if you're leasing it's kind of just a weird nice thing to do. But I'm weird like that. Don't tell the guy I was working for today, but I worked past when he told me to quit because I wanted to get things done because I felt compelled to.

And that extra work was for free, but I saw that it needed done. I left some still, and may go do it still. All I do is work, hunt, and shoot stuff with my free time anyway.
 
To go along with Travlr, invest in adjustable alley panels leading to the chute. You can save a lot by just buying adjustable frames and using regular crowding panels that attach to them. Priefert has these. I have also learned whats best for me is that the chute unloads into the pens, not back out into the pasture or you can easily set it up like I have with a simple diverter gate to where they can go back into the pens or into a small pasture adjoining the pens.
 
Here are some pics of our small corral I built. It is used for just for cows that are pregnant. All others are sent to another pasture about 1/4 mile away and that pasture will have its own corral....as soon as I get it done !!!
This setup has worked really well because they come here to feed, so I can just get them on the other side and run them through the chute into squeeze, work them, and kick them back out to the pasture or close the door and let them go through the end of the chute and get loaded into the trailer. Basic but works well.
It's really nice having a little room that is weatherproof. I don't have a fancy tub or anything but I do use a couple of stock Gates that swing on the entrance of the chute. Just put a couple of eyebolts in the last post.
I connect two gates to those bolts and I can swing it anywhere, it works out really nice.
The setup was all pretty cheap except for the chute.

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Here are some pics of our small corral I built. It is used for just for cows that are pregnant. All others are sent to another pasture about 1/4 mile away and that pasture will have its own corral....as soon as I get it done !!!
This setup has worked really well because they come here to feed, so I can just get them on the other side and run them through the chute into squeeze, work them, and kick them back out to the pasture or close the door and let them go through the end of the chute and get loaded into the trailer. Basic but works well.
It's really nice having a little room that is weatherproof. I don't have a fancy tub or anything but I do use a couple of stock Gates that swing on the entrance of the chute. Just put a couple of eyebolts in the last post.
I connect two gates to those bolts and I can swing it anywhere, it works out really nice.
The setup was all pretty cheap except for the chute.

View attachment 24845
What did you use for lumber? It doesn't look like treated. How wide is your alley to the chute? I don't see any way to put a bar behind a cow to stop from backing up.
 
Make sure the cattle can flow in a circle. From holding pens to sorting alley to tub. Through the chute and back to pens with out having to cross paths with the unworked cattle.
Add a Y divider to your chute alley and make an off spur that goes to a trailer load out. That way you can use your tub/alley to load the trailer safely.
 
What did you use for lumber? It doesn't look like treated. How wide is your alley to the chute? I don't see any way to put a bar behind a cow to stop from backing up.
Yes the wood is all pressure treated. We don't have any issues with any cattle backing up in the chute. I usually only run one at a time in. But sometimes we'll have two or three in there and I just swing the gate closed behind them. All of our cattle are either Japanese black or Akaushi Wagyu cattle and they are very docile... pretty much do what I ask them. The old girls walk right in, some of the new calves are a little challenge until they've been through it.
I thought about cutting some slots in the wooden part of the approach chute for a rump bar but ended up not needing it. However our squeez does have a rump bar and two sets of fingers to keep them from backing up into the palpitation cage.
It's just my wife and I that work our cattle and we're in our 60s. So I had to build something that was easy for us.
I believe the chute dimension was 29 in.
 
Yes the wood is all pressure treated. We don't have any issues with any cattle backing up in the chute. I usually only run one at a time in. But sometimes we'll have two or three in there and I just swing the gate closed behind them. All of our cattle are either Japanese black or Akaushi Wagyu cattle and they are very docile... pretty much do what I ask them. The old girls walk right in, some of the new calves are a little challenge until they've been through it.
I thought about cutting some slots in the wooden part of the approach chute for a rump bar but ended up not needing it. However our squeez does have a rump bar and two sets of fingers to keep them from backing up into the palpitation cage.
It's just my wife and I that work our cattle and we're in our 60s. So I had to build something that was easy for us.
I believe the chute dimension was 29 in.
Looks like a nice setup. Nice to have cows easy to handle makes life easier! Thanks for the answers.
 
Alleys wider than 12 feet are a hard thing to use with a one man operation. They will learn to time you and beat you on a side when you go for the gate. Longer lets me have cut gates and I can sort forwards and backwards and send cattle and sheep out side gates in most cuts.
 
My only advice is to be sure to make your chutes narrower than you think looks right. I've seen way too many chutes that cattle can turn around in because they are too wide.
Travlr is right... lots of guys think that their big cows are too wide to squeeze through, and so they make their lane too wide. That's how you get problems. It has to be narrow enough to prevent anybody from even thinking about turning around... 29" IMO is the max, but 27" will probably end up being too narrow for alot of the bigger animals. I've had plenty of trouble with turners in 30" - 32" fixed lanes... usually that'll be the yearlings... and THAT'S why everybody thinks they need an "adjustable". Not here to knock adjustability... just recognizing that a good design with "fixed" width can overcome most of those issues. And less complicated = more durability, with less things to have to fix over time. I like the KISS program (Keep It Simple Stupid!). Usually less costly on the upfront end too.

I'm positive that my lane would have lots of issues with turners too, if I didn't have those guard rails installed at the bottom. They're just high enough to be really effective on all the smaller stock... and higher than most would think would be acceptably functional (guard rail is 12" each... and I've got them about 2"-3" above the floor). But the bottom of a cow belly is really soft and flexible... they'll slide right over them (and they DO... the rails are rubbed all along their length, stained with cow belly soil). The first time we used it, and before I installed cleats on the floor, we had alot of trouble with cows going down in it (it has a wood plank floor, so very slippery when wet with manure). The other guys working the cattle with me were insisting that I had to lower those rails like 6 inches! They were sure they were getting hung up on the guard rails! I was sure they were wrong, ...went home and got some 2x4's cut to length and screwed them down onto the floor, and hundreds of critters later, we've never had a single issue again. They were just slipping on the floor, their feet would get out behind 'em, and THEN they'd get hung on the guard rails. Lowering the rails wouldn't have helped a thing, and probably would have made the problem worse.
 
BTW, the vet that works our embryos voluntarily commented that our "system" (all portable), flows better than any that he's worked in, including lots of expensive permanent setups in buildings. First time through, with them slipping on the floor and getting hung up, was a real challenge and he was NOT impressed at all, in fact, he was very frustrated and skeptical of it, but once I got that cured, we were off to the races. Was nice to get that kind of compliment... especially when the whole thing was built by me in my "spare time"...:rolleyes:, with "my design", and after doing lots of research. We never "sorted" anything off ahead of time, just ran them all through as they came... although I would often end up with a bunch of calves at the end of a "Bud Box" group, and then I'd usually run them into the other lane, to avoid slowing down the flow.
 
If you're running calves through and 29 inch lanes to big, then you just hang some old tires on the sides to keep the calves from turning around.
When just we got rid of our last Angus, she rubbed the sides hard, she was 1600 lbs. So anything smaller than 29" would've been pretty tough for her to get through without breaking something.
 
When I built it, I figured I'd just line the lane with first a panel on the inside (where there's no gates to let critters out the sides), then another along the outside if necessary. They'd go inside of the guard rails, so one on each side would leave the lane only 16" wide, all the way up (if installed straight vertical on the panel, but tight against the guard rails at the bottom... they could be installed in a "V" too, if you wanted to). So far, I haven't seen any situation where I've needed them at all, but it would be an easy, cheap fix.

My original design WAS going to be adjustable, possibly even hydraulically adjusted, and I THOUGHT that I needed it to be... in fact it was one of those "have to have" details for me, and I spent alot of time designing how I would do it. Cost to accomplish primarily, and then complication of the system was what changed my mind. Very glad I made that change. The KISS program!

As it was, I was up against a very tight deadline to get the thing done... in fact, I was up until midnight the night before we needed to be using it cutting the floorboards, and then I still had to go to town in the morning to get the screws and a driver bit to put them in! I screwed down the floor when I got home, put the wheels on and hauled the thing out to the pasture and set it in place, we set up the corral panels, and by 1:00 the vet showed up and we were running 160 head of cattle through!
 
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