working a headgate single-handed - any ideas?

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regolith

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The headgate is one of those simple 'v' shaped bar gates where the cow sticks her head through and you push the bar closed before she pulls back.

I've worked cows without assistance through these gates for years - without an added rope to allow the bar to be pulled from back at the cow's shoulder. It takes patience, but apart from the odd stubborn cow they pretty much always end up locked.

I just put six heifers through the headgate on the new farm for ear-tagging. Three of them put their head straight through and pulled back again because I couldn't close the bar - it would only close if they were standing with the narrow part of the neck in the space; with their shoulders pushing against it you can't move the bar at all (nor can I get it across at the lightning speed required to trap their neck before the head comes back).
Two of those heifers I then had a helluva wrestle with because they wouldn't put their head back through.

So - I had words with the farm owner about the fact his headgate doesn't work when the cows do exactly what they're supposed to (try to push through it).
Any advice for either a) trapping them first time or b) convincing a heifer that now knows she can't get through the gate to stick her head back in it.

Got another 130-odd cows and heifers to tag over the next few weeks... this is going to be fun.
 
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regolith

regolith

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Get an auto headgate

Is that one of the ones that close when the cow leans on it? Bars open inwards so she pushes them closed with her shoulders.

I don't get to choose the equipment here, unfortunately. I've wished for one for a while. Ideally a proper chute/crush like the bigger beef farms use, but they run into the thousands of dollars.
I can find out if they make them to fit the gate space I've got, but it'll likely only go on the wishlist if it's not too expensive (I want weighscales when I reduce the overdraft a bit).
Or I convince the farm owner (because it's his farm and his responsibility to provide the infrastructure).
 

dun

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regolith":6blzhzhu said:
Get an auto headgate

Is that one of the ones that close when the cow leans on it? Bars open inwards so she pushes them closed with her shoulders.

I don't get to choose the equipment here, unfortunately. I've wished for one for a while. Ideally a proper chute/crush like the bigger beef farms use, but they run into the thousands of dollars.
I can find out if they make them to fit the gate space I've got, but it'll likely only go on the wishlist if it's not too expensive (I want weighscales when I reduce the overdraft a bit).
Or I convince the farm owner (because it's his farm and his responsibility to provide the infrastructure).
There those that they have to push shut with their shoulders, I don;t like them because if the aniaml keeps pushing or pulling you can;t open them. At least I can;t. The ones I like are like Peifert makes that are kind of scissors type action that slide from the sides.
 
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regolith

regolith

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I remember that now. It's years since I've seen that sort of headlock.

I've been thinking I'm going to look at that gate in the morning and see if it's set in its tightest position (for calves) or something stupid like that. I did oil all the hinges and bolts before using it, and it didn't look adjustable - but most of them are.
The other awkward part is that there's a downpipe from the roof immediately adjacent so there's only one place the operator can stand to close it - the last one I used I had free access for basically an arm's length forward or behind.

edit: found some links. I'm going to google a bit more see what's available in this country - maybe secondhand?

http://www.getbetterbuilt.com/cowgates.htm Priefert scissor-style gate
http://www.cattletoday.com/forum/viewto ... 49&start=0
 

dieselbeef

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when they get close enuff too the chute slide a post behind em thru the panels or boards so they cant back up. they go forward again in a sec when they hit that post behind em. put the post behind em before ya open the chute. once there trapped theyll go forward when ya open it and they see daylight or an escape route. then ya can get em w/o the others pushin em thru too
just make sure ya put it thru the correct direction so when the cow hits it if it comes loose it goes away from you and not back into where yer standing. youll see what i mean. then you can alwasy jump up top of the chute to pull yer rope or push em forward with yer foot or hotshot is ya gotta.
 
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regolith

regolith

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Well, the gate does adjust and was set correctly for cows (you can see the hole at the bottom for bolting the bar closer still).

headbail_new_farm.JPG

The chain you can see lying on the floor I suppose is to be used as a bar - but it's in the wrong position, well ahead of the cow's rump where she stops. I'll move it back before using the gate next time so if it's needed it's in reach - but I prefer a piece of rope there (and not having to use it).

This is the one I used on the old farm - pretty much a piece of junk, but I didn't miss 50% of the cows I tried to catch with it. Capable of causing injury according to one of the vets, and I had a near miss with it too recently, when a cow managed to slam the bar back (not sure how, did happen quickly).
taranaki_farm_headbail.JPG
 

hillsdown

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Or I convince the farm owner (because it's his farm and his responsibility to provide the infrastructure).

I would go with this idea. Not only is the equipment you are working with very very outdated it can and will cause injury to yourself and the dairy cattle. Also think of the extra time it takes you to accomplish things when you could be spending your valuable time elsewhere. I do know dairy and there are never enough hours in the day even with the proper facilities.

That set up looks to be painstakingly awkward and very time consuming especially if you have a few head to run through.
 

Jogeephus

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If I was not able to change out the head gate I'd do what Diesel said but based on he pictures there is a lot of room between posts so I would weld a couple more vertical pipes the the panels which could serve as stops for the pipe. This way you could close the head gate, get them inside the box and place pipe behind them so they can't retreat. This should allow you to be in position to work the head latch.
 
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regolith

regolith

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Those Priefert gates are very reasonably priced, I reckon. Nearest thing (to the design) I could find on the 'net local was the Te Pari crushes.

Oh, absolutely it's awkward. But I know 3 years ago I had a similar number to tag, did them in an afternoon and about ten the next day because it got too dark to finish (through that second set-up). I rather hoped to do the same this time - the whole lot in a few hours - but the farm where the dry cows are grazing for the winter doesn't have a headgate at all.
The owner hinted it could be done with nosepullers and him roping them down, but I'm used to working alone and that sounded like more work than it needed to be.
Never thought I'd want to see that rusty old gate this badly :help:
There's room in this shed to take the headgate out and put a fancy foot-trimming unit in front :D

HD, I 'killed' a cow trimming her foot in a similar set-up. It was rusted to bits, and a previous cow had thrown herself around while her leg was tied, ripping out the second rail from the bottom. Which until it was replaced, left only the third rail up to trim bad feet.
I had a teenager fall while I was trimming her hindfoot, roped to the third rail. She never got up again - had to be shot.
Ever since then, I won't lift a cow's leg that high. I've seen vets trim on the third, and I know it gives a much better angle for access... I can't bring myself to do it.

Thanks Jo. Actually, until I re-read Diesel's post I thought he meant using a ratchet thingy, and I'm sure such a thing could be welded on - but a couple more vertical pipes would be much simpler and easier to install.
Then I wonder if we could get rid of that overhead pipe - the one that forces the operator to push the gate from an angle.
Hmm - a secure pipe (between the new verticals) - would also prevent cows behind pushing forward as you let the one you've worked out. It gets rather... interesting ...at the front gate there.
 

dieselbeef

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that post across there wil keep em from pushin up on the one in the gate at the same time it keeps em from retreating. once the post is in theyll go forward gate or not...but be careful cuz if the cows behind the post pushes it as yer pullin it out be standing on the right side of it as it swings toward the back of the chute. a 2''post will make quite a bruise on yer thigh..trust me there.
hard to explain but really simple in use
 

novatech

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Looking at the pics it would be a no brain-er to lift the existing gate off the pens and replace with your own. This would do no damage to the owner's gate. Install your own buy welding a small piece of pipe to it that would drop over the existing pens. If you loose the lease, no harm done. Put the old one back in place and take yours with you.
You could also use some nose tongs to hold the head.
Regardless you need a pipe or gate behind them. As a matter of fact if your cattle are calm enough to work in that chute you could probably put the tags in and they would just stand there. Chute is to wide. Pipe is to far apart. No gate to hold the cow. Not high enough. Looks like they are set up to trap the head when they come to a bucket of feed in front of the head gate. :lol:
I learned the hard way that a self catching head gate can be a problem when working by yourself. If a cow happens to get her shoulders through then she ends up getting caught at the hips. Its can take a pretty good while to get an excited cow back back out.
 

dieselbeef

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i think they said it was a dairy op?? if so maybe the cows are docile enuff from the everyday grind that that catch will do...seems pretty scry for any of my animals tho.. ive got a brahma cow that i figure would just walk off with that thing
 
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regolith

regolith

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The cows are very docile.

I've been talking this morning with the guy who is next door to the local engineers, and it sounds like we might be able to get a few adjustments done - if the farm owner agrees. He thought as well that the gate was too low - I wouldn't raise it, because the bottom is so narrow I reckon it'd increase the problem.
He also suggested that adding a rope with a pulley either end (so it can be pulled closed from the yard side) might help with accessing the shutter bar.

Sometimes it's possible to tag a cow if she's just standing there, but I'd rather not risk ripping ears or dropping the tags underfoot.
 

tytower

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Crushes like this over here are made with a rear extension handle that can be used to close the head bale . its a piece of pipe say 1 1/2 " by about 6 ft long attached to the head bale and runs horizontally along the side of the crush to the back ,a few 6" pieces of square tube or larger pipe are welded to the crush,the pipe runs through these and a handle is welded to the other end . Doesn't cost much . You stand at the back and push them through and pull down on the handle when they are in.

I'll take a picture of mine if you want but post back and tell me save me wasting my time . Also I'll edit this post if I find one on the net.

Edit have a look at this and you will get the idea.

http://www.arrowfarmquip.com.au/Brochur ... QCatch.pdf
 
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regolith

regolith

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I see it - and is that your crush in the avatar?
I've never come across that method before, usually just run a rope along the side of the crush because the manufacturers didn't make 'em that way.

Well I've been told - no-one else has ever complained about this shed :roll:
 
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i just bought a nice auto/manual headgate that closes when the cows push on it with there shoulders.costed about 500 bux new.works great!! tell your boss to buy one and remind him its a tax writeoff. :nod: .i wouldnt feel safe using that setup on my heifers
 

dun

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doublejredangus":a2fonl56 said:
i just bought a nice auto/manual headgate that closes when the cows push on it with there shoulders.costed about 500 bux new.works great!! tell your boss to buy one and remind him its a tax writeoff. :nod: .i wouldnt feel safe using that setup on my heifers
Wait until the joyfull day that one or more learns of the trick of pushing it a little then jerking their heads back. That opens it all the way and off they go. I've got the shirt!
 

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