Cattle coral system

Help Support CattleToday:

Here's the plan drawing. You can see on the drawing that the "palp cage" is alot roomier than most because of how it opens up that whole side. The corral panels and triple gates on the back end that form the Bud Box with crowding gates are also very important to the flow and functioning of the system. I can do another post as to how we set them up if you want.

Design by John Meyer
Rock Dell Forage Farms
9604 Co. Rd. 3 SW
Stewartville, MN 55976
507-951-9433 (cell)
[email protected]
And here's a couple of pics while I was in the process of building it:

These pics were taken before I added the transition/palp cage doors to the unit. The transition and the diverter in the center of it have guard rails attached to them as well. You can see that the guard rails are just cut off straight on this "exit" end... because the cattle are coming this way and won't get caught on them... no cleats on the floor yet... like I said, those are absolutely "critical"...
This next pic is looking at it from the side and kind of from the entrance end... notice the guard rails here have "finished" ends, tapered, then welded (cut a slit in the center of the hump, beat them down so they overlap each other, and weld in place... makes a 45 degree angle on the end). You can also see the sides of the lane above the guard rails are quite "open"... so you have access to the animals. I did that on purpose... there's a 16" opening all the way along the full length (above that rail that's positioned about 12" above the guard rails). You can do alot of work, like shots/tagging, etc., right there in the lane if you want. If they don't NEED to go into the chute because we've got everything they need done already in the lane, we can let them out of either lane at the transition. And you can move animals along easily just by "man position" outside of the chute. If you have solid sides, you can't do that. There's rolling cut doors at the entrance and between the lane and the transition (labeled on the diagram above).
The squeeze chute is separate from the alley and hauls separately. I could put a hitch on the back of the frame if I want to, to pull it along behind. This lane is fairly heavy all by itself. Needed it to be pretty much "wreck-proof".... if there can be such a thing when working cattle. So far so good though!
Last edited:
Preiferts website has allot of good designs from big to small. You can count the panels for deminsions.
I've been using a 28 inch wide alley and no calves turning around cows go through it fine. Some fat ones will rub a little but have always gotten them to go. Adjustable alleys seem like a waste of money. I've heard of people lining the alley with panel or pallets if they are too wide. Portable panels are the way to go. Not a big deal if you want to tweak you corral and are actually a good investment since they won't lose value
This is all great information and I lot to digest. I know I will use guardrails as I have a lot of extra ones on the farm currently.

RDFF- for the alley's being 29" is that the number you feel like is a good common width when working both calf's and cows? Ones that want to turn around can be a real challenge when working them solo, so i'd like to try and get this part where I feel confident I can work them solo...

I do think for my lanes' i'll do 10-12 feet as I am often times working solo and will make it easier getting cut gates,etc. My thoughts were to have my lanes, sorting pens, chute, tub and alley, etc all on Heavy use area and crush and run then have a larger catch pen that flows into this with just grass. I don't plan to work more than 40 head at a time, so I don't need anything to large!
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.
Sorting gate. Priefert has those too.
Don't make anything permanent until you've run your cattle in and out and thru it for at least a year, unless you just really like cutting stuff loose and redoing it.
This is all great information and I lot to digest. I know I will use guardrails as I have a lot of extra ones on the farm currently

RDFF- for the alley's being 29" is that the number you feel like is a good common width when working both calf's and cows? Ones that want to turn around can be a real challenge when working them solo, so i'd like to try and get this part where I feel confident I can work them solo...

I sweated over the right width for quite awhile (because I WAS building a "permanent investment" and needed to get it right the first time... no turning back once you've cut and welded and spent all the $$$ and hours building!). My "permanent installation" wooden corral and lane at one place was originally built to be 30"-ish between rails. Wood posts driven into the ground on both sides... with each side independent of the other... so over time, that 30"-ish became wider in places, and now, significantly wider where posts have begun getting weak and rotting off... (so I've been tying one side to the other with twine... sound familiar?). I always had issues with smaller ones turning around in it... a real pain, and as the dimensions got wider (because the posts over time start tipping away from each other), bigger animals would attempt it too. IMO, ALWAYS have one side of the lane tied to the other. This will greatly strengthen the installation... but it will also prevent the lane from getting wider from cattle pressure applied to the sides.

As has been said by others, you want them (at least your biggest animals) to be fitting "tight" as they go down through that lane... rubbing the sides snugly the whole way. 28" will be big enough for almost every animal you will ever have. 29"... gives you just a little extra room for when you have a really wide pregnant cow. But a cow's sides/belly is really soft, and can tolerate quite a bit of squeeze... Her hips/shoulders...i.e.: BONES... that don't have any give... aren't going to be that wide.

HOWEVER, all of that having been said, I believe the reason my fixed-width lane is working so well for all sizes is because of those double high guard rails at the bottom, set 3" above the floor (top edge of the top rail at about 27"). That narrows the bottom part to 20", JUST below the round of the belly of that large cow... she's literally sliding her belly along on that rail the whole way.

Those rails add alot of strength/rigidity to the lane, and they're high enough then to deter the calves/yearlings from wanting to turn around. They're obviously SLOPED on their top edge.... so if a calf tries to climb up to try to turn around in the wider area, he'll slip off... I've never actually seen one try this, but I probably just didn't notice, because he was immediately not successful. You'd only notice him if he actually is causing a problem, or slowing down the flow.

And the bottom floor area isn't so narrow so as to be more difficult for a cow to waddle down through there. You've really essentially just built the shape of the lane right around the shape of the cow. This is the concern when you use a "V" shaped alley... very narrow at the bottom, so the cow kind of is forced to "walk the chalk line"... she's not as stable on her feet then. Why is this done? To achieve a narrow area at the bottom for calves, and a wider area up at the cow's belly for the cows. The guard rails do the same thing... except they do it in a shape that more fits the shape of the cow, and they allow the floor width then to be more open. Easier for a man to walk down through there then too.
Don't make anything permanent until you've run your cattle in and out and thru it for at least a year, unless you just really like cutting stuff loose and redoing it.
Absolutely! Great advice. I don't think I'd ever make anything permanent again. Get yourself some of the heavy 24' freestanding panels, just enough to do what you THINK you want to do. Could use them for the lane too... just set them so they're 28" or so apart, and throw a chain over the top on each end to keep them that width... the cattle will run underneath the chain at the height of the top rail. Or weld up a couple of rigid brackets to place over the top and secure it at that width. You could even bolt guard rails on a couple at the bottom just for this. And you can hang a couple of gates on the "entrance end" on them for your "Bud Box crowd gates" like I have. Pretty simple, low cost, safe! And perhaps just as important, you get to try it out, make changes, even set up the whole thing wherever you NEED to work cattle, instead of having to get the cattle to your working pen.

SSCattle, using those longer, stronger panels will make you a longer, stronger, IMPENETRABLE (wreckproof!) lane. You won't be sorry! That means when you go around the back end to "load" the lane from your Bud Box, you'll be able to "load more critters" inline, per trip back there to "load". You don't necessarily NEED cut doors on the entrance to the lane... if you use two crowd gates across your panel-created Bud Box. Open the gates in opposite directions (first one toward the holding pen, second one into the Bud Box), run the cattle from your corral into the Bud Box, closing the first gate as you come up behind the cattle, and locking it to the upright of the heavy panels. Move toward the cattle, they'll walk past you and turn to go into the opening in the lane as you bring the other crowd gate along with you behind them. Lock that 2nd crowd gate to the same vertical post the other gate is locked to (V shaped "lane" formed by these gates then, but very secure, can't open up "too wide"). The crowd gates have now added a little less than 12' to the length of your lane. Cattle can't turn around now at all, and you've probably got enough lane length for 5-6 cows (just the right number at a time for handling through a processing system). So now you can go up and work all of this group through the chute, just by walking alongside to prompt the next one forward. Use a rump bar that can be locked across the panels to keep them forward as needed. It doesn't HAVE to be fancy.... just functional and safe!
Last edited:
Here's a quick drawing for a simple 40-cow capacity Holding Pen, with Bud Box and lane, using the 24' Freestanding Panels, like I described in my previous post. Kind of a minimum of what would be required to function and "flow" very well, IMO. All portable. That third gate in the holding pen wouldn't be "essential"..., but it definitely would make loading from the Holding Pen into the Bud Box more efficient. With our bigger herd (so a larger Holding Pen), we usually just set one or more 24' panels there, at about the angle that I drew the gate in (to have a kind of a narrower alleyway where one man can follow them up and have them a little more contained leading up to the Bud Box). The man then only has to "block" about a 12' width when encouraging the animals forward toward the Bud Box. The beauty of this kind of set-up is that it IS flexible... you can change it in any way you want so it works for you. Bud Boxes work GREAT though if you understand cattle and know how one is supposed to function... I'd never trade that design for a tub. And this SIZE of Bud Box is just right (12' x 24'), regardless of herd size.

Wouldn't need the guard rails attached to the lane panels of course, and it would work just fine that way for cows... but mounting them on two panels wouldn't prevent you from using them anywhere "just as panels" for a temporary corral... and it would make the lane work much better for calves and yearlings. Of course, THIS design would allow you to put the panels closer together too, ... "adjustable width"... but if your calves and cows aren't sorted, and are running through as one "herd" together, that's not all that practical (that's most commonly the case for our operation). Just add more panels to the Holding Pen as needed as your herd size increases.

Way less complicated and costly than what I built, with pretty much the same "flow" and functionality. Might even wish that this was the route I pursued in the first place???!!! :)



  • 1673973005918.png
    157.8 KB · Views: 14
Last edited:
I'm late to the party, but here's one I designed and built about 10 years ago. It works pretty well (there's no such thing as too many gates).

C & B

We are new owners with just a few Brangus and a "Special" bull. We purchased this sweep system with their custom Angus chute and had wheels put on that so we could move it around, if needed. The pricing is really good compared to some other companies. Quality is heavy duty..the cattleman from whom we bought our cattle was quite impressed. Sweep system is working well for us at this point.
Chad is the man to speak with...

Latest posts