Working pen materials

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redandblack

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If you were going to build a set of working pens what materials would you use? Already have 2 3/8 tubing for posts...what would you recommend for rails? Panels? Have about 40 head of angus cattle nothing too hot. Old pens are pipe with pipe railing, but calves can squeeze through. Looked at the heavy duty bull panels that you can weld (smaller squares similar to hog panels). Also looked at the continuous panels. Want something small calves can't squeeze under, through, but don't want to spend a fortune. Thanks in advance for any responses.
 

NolanCountyAG

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Our pens are built with 4" drill stem posts and 2 7/8 for rails. Some places we just used sucker rod for rails. Yet to have a calf get through.
 

bird dog

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I use regular 16' x 50" wire cattle panels. I use 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 1/8 square tubing instead of pipe because the ease in welding offsets the higher cost of material in my opinion. Square posts and top rails. Angle iron rail at the bottom and middle. Wire panel welded over that. In the sorting pens I don't even use the middle rail.

Its funny but the calves are actually harder on the setup than the cows. The calves think they can run through it. The cows don't try. I weld the panels at about 16 spacing on the rails and about 10" on the posts. They hold up very well, are quick and easy to build and fairly reasonable price wise. I have had some cows try to jump over but none never have. The top rail won't give as the wire makes it strong like a truss.
 

callmefence

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I really like sucker rod. 3/4 inch or bigger. It's fast and easy to work with.
For customers we generally use all 23/8 pipe. Because it's expected.

But more often where using sucker rod
Especially on our own stuff. Typically six foot pipe with top rail. Come down eighteen inches face weld sucker rod and then another every 8 inches. Post on eight foot centers. With two sucker rod vertical stays every section.
Won't make the prettiest pens you ever saw but you'll like the price.
Both on material and labor.

Panels work well on a pipe frame but it's sure hard to get out if you need to.
 

Dave

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I am too far from the oil patch to get affordable sucker rod. I can get used guard rail at an affordable price. Three high it makes a good solid pen. I just helped a guy build a pen using some solid panels that they use in making bridge deck. They were 20 feet by 2.5 feet. We held them 8 inches off the ground and 8 inches between. That made the fence a little over 6 foot tall. he said that new those panels were over $200 apiece. He got them surplus for $7.50 each. Lots of things will work. Find what you can get surplus in your area.
 

Brute 23

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Im sold on portable panels. I can designs them exactly how I want with the guy that makes them. In a couple hours they are up and I am done. I can buy pieces and budget a little ever year to add on as the money comes.

If its not portable panels I would use wood.

Im done with pipe. I grew up the son of a welder and we have done the sucker rod, the cattle panels, saddling every runner in, welding the horizontal pipes to the outside, etc. I cant stand cattle panels... its dangerous and tears the cattle up. The sucker rod flexes and I have seen more than one yearling stick its head in and get stuck. Putting 2 3/8 top to bottom looks great, works great, but I just can't justify that cost.

I would like a solid pipe working chute or wood working chute but to do the whole facility like that is too costly.
 

customcattle

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Brute 23":1vffc9k9 said:
Im sold on portable panels. I can designs them exactly how I want with the guy that makes them. In a couple hours they are up and I am done. I can buy pieces and budget a little ever year to add on as the money comes.

If its not portable panels I would use wood.

Im done with pipe. I grew up the son of a welder and we have done the sucker rod, the cattle panels, saddling every runner in, welding the horizontal pipes to the outside, etc. I cant stand cattle panels... its dangerous and tears the cattle up. The sucker rod flexes and I have seen more than one yearling stick its head in and get stuck. Putting 2 3/8 top to bottom looks great, works great, but I just can't justify that cost.

I would like a solid pipe working chute or wood working chute but to do the whole facility like that is too costly.

With all due respect, I tend to disagree about the wood vs pipe. I realize that the wood goes up a lot faster and the initial cost is cheaper, but in the long run, any pipe corrals I put up are going to be there long past my time. I have had wood posts that I set rot off in my life time (I'm 32), not to mention a person is probably going to be replacing at least one rail per year depending on what you use and the amount of pressure.
I personally really like using 2 3/8" pipe and continuous fence panels. Unless in a high pressure area you don't need to top rail it, and you can buy 20' panels for the same cost or less than a 12' portable panel.
 

bird dog

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What kind of 20" panels are you speaking of? Just curious but without a top rail, what happens when they decide they want to try and jump over? Even in non crowd areas, one knuckle head will try for a jail break.
 

Atimm693

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We have continuous panels, with two top rails of 2 1/2" pipe, and a run of sucker rod below the panel to stop calves from slipping under.

I don't like sucker rod for rails either, but it sounds like Callmefence has them figured out.

I hate working with cattle panels too. Tough to weld, tough to handle, lots of sharp edges. Only advantage is the cost.
 

bird dog

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Wire cattle panels are a breeze to weld with square tubing and will make the sharp ends not so prominent as they will lay flat against the tube. One thing I have found to make the welding easier is to use 7014 rods.
 

bbirder

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My pen is made with 2 7/8 drill pipe for posts 8ft apart. Weld in 2 3/8 around bottom about 15 or 16" off ground, then set cattle panels on top of that and weld in. Top it off with another run of 2 3/8 around top and you have a sturdy fence almost 6' that has worked well for me. The chute area is straight run 2 3/8 pipe.
 

Caustic Burno

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If I had it to do over again I would use my layout but my neighbors design.
He used drill stem welded in the shape
and the portable panels fit right in.
It has lots of strength and easy to repair if you get an idiot.
Gets a panel tore up unpin it and replace with a new one.
 

customcattle

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bird dog":h8o1svp9 said:
What kind of 20" panels are you speaking of? Just curious but without a top rail, what happens when they decide they want to try and jump over? Even in non crowd areas, one knuckle head will try for a jail break.

We will top rail in alley ways and working pens, but in just corrals we don't. Most often they are 14 ga. 1.25" round tubing 20' long and you would set posts at 10' centers. Pretty much the same or better material as most portable panels, but dang near twice as long and the same price. You can find them all over the internet in 4 bar to 7 bar. I like using 5 bar with a top rail.

 

gcreekrch

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Start with 8 to 10 inch x 10 ft. pressure treated posts on 12 ft. centers. 14 ft peeled or dry pine logs with 8 inch top, 5 high and an upright wired to the post to make them stay. I'm 6' 4" and can't see over. Never had a cow even try. My alley uses the same posts an 2x8 rough sawn lumber 8 high with a 4 inch space in the middle to accommodate a bar to keep them in.

The other place is free standing panels 24 ft long and Hi Hog panels and gates for sorting alley, load and chute alley. We did hang snow fence on the free standing panels to keep heads from going through.
 

Caustic Burno

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Brute 23":1axyv153 said:
If you think portable panels are too high its because you are not putting a dollar amount on you time.

Build a pen out of drill stem at a dollar a foot for pipe.
Still cheaper in the long run to do it right the first time.
 

Stocker Steve

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bird dog":1hl6zfhg said:
I use regular 16' x 50" wire cattle panels.

- Used to use railroad ties and home grown rough saw oak. Does not last like metal. Frost moves ties unless you wrap them well.
- Most have gone to 24' long portable (ND oil field surplus pipe and rod) panels. They hold value and can be moved.

I did buy a trailer load of used 16' wire cattle panels to build a trap for stocker calves. Plan on a 5' dia wood post every 4' and one treated 2x8 across the top. Would you do more than that? Suggestions?
 

bird dog

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<<I did buy a trailer load of used 16' wire cattle panels to build a trap for stocker calves. Plan on a 5' dia wood post every 4' and one treated 2x8 across the top. Would you do more than that? Suggestions?>>

Your post spacing is more than adequate. I would run some kind of board across the bottom ( 2 x 4?) to keep the panels from bending when a calf hits it hard or just flexing with the temperature change. It also helps make the wire panel into a truss and makes the top board much stronger since it won't flex as easily. I used to pull my bottom support up to where it was centered on the second or third wire. This will make it stronger but then you have the problem of the bottom of the panel flexing some if a calf tries to go under. I had one pin its head underneath one one time. Not a big deal to get it out but it changed my thinking on construction.

If you are using wood post, are you going to notch the posts to keep the 2 x flush to the face? If not you are going to have a 1 1/2" gap between the wire and the post and a potential problem where the ends of the panels meet. Maybe nail a board to the face of the post to give you a secure place to nail the ends and keep it all flush. On my steel posts I weld every wire on the ends to keep from having a sharp point from a wire bending out.
 

Stocker Steve

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bird dog":3nccm19n said:
If you are using wood post, are you going to notch the posts to keep the 2 x flush to the face

I was going to staple the welded 16' panel to the wood posts, and then nail the treated 2x over the panel.?

With out any crowding being done - - I was debating top only, or both top & bottom, 2x over the panel.
 

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