What are your thoughts? I am stuck on what to do and I need some outside opinions. Attached I have did a word document sketch of my barn layout and what I am looking for is a working facility for my small herd of show cattle. It needs to be practical and feasable on a average budget. You will see in the drawing that it is color coded. The following represent the colors:
Red-Barn and Lean To
Yellow-Doors or Openings in Barn/Lean-to Walls
Black-Continuous Metal Fence
Green-Gate Placement off of Metal Fence
Blue- High Tensile Wire Fenced Calf Runs
Green Circles-Row of trees
Left of Page is North. Main Pasture opens to south of barn. There is a row of trees indicated by green circles. There is enough space between trees and corner of barn to back a trailer in there. My thoughts are to have a corral area outside south of lean to feeding into a lane along the continuous fence into the east side of barn through single sliding door into an area inside the barn where the chute is set up with maybe a couple catch pens inside. The chute would open towards the small door west of lean to leading outside to the south into a lane to either go the the pasture or back in the corral pen. These are just my initial thoughts but I am open for any and all suggestions. I am planning on building this project this summer/fall to be able to work donors for flushes this fall/winter.
Please give me your thoughts! Thanks!!!
I routinely work cattle at two facilities, one is an original structure my dad and I have added to and modified over the years, the other I designed and started building from the ground up on a place where I manage a herd of cattle for somebody else. I can't see anything on your Word document...it opens, but it's a blank page, and it's a little hard to follow the written description, but here are a few thoughts and recommendations I have for anybody who is trying to do something like this:
1. Flow is very important. If the cattle are inclined to move through your system, then working cattle is a completely different experience than trying to push them through when they don't want to go. Cattle move in circles, and their instinct is to go back to where they came from. Position your holding pens, working alley and head chute with that in mind. If they have to move down a long, straight alley where they can see the head gate at the end, they're hard to push through and there's a lot of backing up involved! Just a little curve in an alley keeps them moving.
2. Holding pens. I don't think you can have too many. We like that ours are accessible from other pens, and what I mean is we have one pen that can feed into the squeeze alley, into two different barn hallways that we use for holding, or into several other outside lots if we need to sort cattle. We added a long pen on the outside of our crowding pen last fall that cuts into three different small pens, or we can open it up into one big pen, and we can access it from both ends into different lots or from both sides into the barn shed or into a third lot.
3. I like having access to get in with or out from behind cattle in the chute. A palp door is a must for us because we AI. Even if we didn't AI, it's still VERY handy for lots of other things. I would put one in even if you don't think you need it. You WILL use it, and you'll be glad it's there! You'll also want access from where you push cattle into the chute to the head gate area. Don't make yourself have to climb panels or go all the way around if it's not the shortest distance. You'll make those steps a LOT.
4. Load out. I love my load out at the new barn! It's designed as a drive through where I pull in and swing one gate to create a load out space without ever having to back up. A lot of stock barns have a similar area for loading or unloading. Extra cost in addition to the barn as it was before...one 12' panel mounted on two 10x6s. That's it. You do need room for a circular drive through area, though.
I'm not finished with the new barn I'm building. I do a little each year with the help of some cost share $ Tennessee has for ag enhancement projects that include cattle equipment. I still haven't decided exactly how I want the holding pens coming into the barn and working area, but it works pretty good once I get the cattle in there. I'm using portable panels for holding pens now, and the challenge is getting the cattle caught and then pushing them into the barn to be worked. Our old modified barn works really well because our cattle are a lot more used to the process, and they don't have as much opportunity to get away from us once we get them in there. I would recommend visiting some stock barns and looking at the layouts...the way cattle are processed and penned and worked toward squeeze chutes. Many of them are far from perfect, but the newer ones are designed with flow and ease of handling in mind. You might get some good ideas. Extension offices have lots of plans that can give you ideas, and you can get personal help from extension staff or local farm supply reps who might even have access to product reps who help with that sort of thing. You're not committed to buy from them, and you might get some great input! Also, look for information put out by Temple Grandin...there was a movie made about her. She's a professor of animal science at Colorado State Univ. who revolutionized the way cattle are worked through US processing plants because of her attention to stress management and humane treatment of cattle. She's an autistic woman with a very interesting perspective. The movie is good, too!
Good luck. It's a project!