Cattle chutes have their own set of terms, and in some cases terms can be used interchangeably as different countries refer to them with a different name or phrase. We created the ultimate glossary of terms about cattle chutes. No matter who you’re talking to, we have the terms they’re using.

Alley – Part of the cattle chute system that moves the cattle into and/or out of the chute safely. Alleys are adjustable to the size of cattle being worked, and into configurations that meet the needs of your facility and the job at hand.

BCS – Body Condition Score – You may want to assess a BCS to all or your cattle as you work them through the chute, and track any changes over time. BCS scores are a universal method for assessing the amount of fat (or lack thereof) on animals.

Bud Box – Type of design in cattle handling facility that positions the handler to facilitate cattle flow into the chute, using correct cattle handling principles. A bud box has a small, rectangular design.

Calf Table – Calves are tipped to the right or left while securely in the calf tipping table, and procedures can be performed efficiently, including castration, dehorning, and branding. Tables are also available for and used for trimming hooves and other procedures on full-sized cattle. 

Calving Pen – An area designed for cattle to birth their calves in. Many calving pens also include a cattle chute in case the dam needs medical attention prior to leaving the maternity pen.

Cattle Tub – Holding area that moves cattle into the chute system by safely and efficiently making the flow of movement towards the chute.

Cattle Vet Cage – Also called a palpation cage. A necessary part of a chute for those breeding heifers or cows, the vet cage is also useful for emergency procedures on animals. Gates are essential to separate the handler from the working chute.

Catwalk – Handler walkway on the outside of a chute system.

Chute Charges – Some feedlots will charge you each time cattle are worked through a chute.

Chute Trailer – A trailer that can move a portable cattle chute system to a different field or corral to work cattle.

Corral – Fenced in area where cattle are held prior to entering the chutes. Many different styles are used, depending on the operation and handler preferences.

Crowding Pen – Usually a funnel shaped pen that moves cattle into a working or loading chute with minimal effort. 

Crush Squeeze – Another term for a squeeze chute. 

Full Opening Stanchion – The head gate is two separate pieces that slide open and closed similar to sliding doors. Straight and curved bar models are available; animals walk through after completing procedure. 

Gates – Used in the cattle chutes, cattle alleys, and in the Bud Box or Cattle Tub to separate animals and make adjustments in the size of the system. 

Guillotine Head Gate – A secure way to hold an animal’s head in place while administering a treatment or procedure. It is difficult to operate, and cattle sometimes balk before entering.

Head Gate – Located at the front of the chute, the head gate holds the animal in place by restraining the head.

Head Holder – Added to a cattle chute to hold the animal’s head in place in a more comfortable and relaxed position for the cattle. Used instead of a stanchion, guillotine, or other type of head gate. The head holder has a scissor style clamp and a locking mechanism. This is a new product for cattle chutes only available from Arrowquip.

Holding Chute – A holding chute is another term for a head gate and/or squeeze chute.

Holding Pen – An essential part of your cattle operation, the holding pen is the area animals are kept in prior to being worked through the cattle chutes. It should hold the maximum number of animals you would work at one time. The term holding pen is used interchangeably in some cases with the terms cattle tub, corral, and crowding pen. Ideally your cattle will move from a holding pen into your cattle chute system, decreasing stress and maintaining a safe environment for cattle and handlers.

Hydraulic Cattle Chute/Crush – A hydraulic chute or crush can be worked from any point on the side of the chute, allowing ranchers to work from the front, side, or back, while staying out of the flight zone of their cattle.

Manual Head Gate – A manual head gate on the front of your chute needs to be operated by a handler. Higher quality chutes will have an adjustable handle, meaning the head gate can be operated anywhere along the side of the chute. 

Needle Door/Access – The needle door is located on the chute, in the neck and shoulder region of the cattle, allowing easy access for procedures such as vaccination and branding.  At Arrowquip, we engineered our needle door so that the panel can be removed for better access.

Loading Chute – Loading chutes are specifically designed to load cattle onto a trailer quickly, before those that entered the trailer first decide to come back out. Different types of trailers require different size loading chutes. You also need to make sure that the pen holds up to the largest load of cattle you will take in one load.

Palpation Gate – Part of a commercial squeeze chute, or in addition to the head gate. The palpation gate is used when conducting artificial insemination, castration, and other procedures on cattle in conjunction with the palpation cage or cattle vet cage.

Palpation Cage – See Cattle Vet Cage. 

Race – Another term for the working chute, this is the fenced in area that moves cattle into the head gate or squeeze chute.

Rolling Cattle Alley Gate – A versatile gate that can be moved to different areas of the system as needed for separating and working cattle. 

Scissor Stanchion – Head gate with two pieces that pivot at the base, and then open to release the animal, allowing the animal to walk through. 

Self-Catching Head Gate – An easy way to catch cattle, manual controls can also be added for increased reliability. Some cattle can escape a self-catching head gate without being caught.

Sorting Alley – This is an area of your chute system where you can sort or divert cattle into the chute, a separate pen, or another configuration. 

Stanchion Head Gate – Another popular head gate option, the stanchion is easy to operate and fast. Cattle can also occasionally escape from a stanchion head gate.

Sternum Bar/Brisket Bar – Placed in a cattle squeeze chute to keep cattle upright and prevent falls. Sternum bars are easy to install or remove from a chute. 

Squeeze Chute – The sides of a squeeze chute move to restrain the animal, enclosing them for treatments or procedures, and reducing the risk of injury to the animals and their handlers.

Scales – Used for weighing cattle, calves, grain, feed or other items. Placement varies depending on the operation, although they can be placed near the chute or head gate for data collection while working with the cattle. Types of scales available for cattle include crates, platforms, and plates

System – Term used for the cattle holding area and chute(s). 

Working Chute – This leads cattle into the head gate or squeeze chute, and sets them up in single file coming out of the tub, alley, or crowding pen. Also referred to as a race.

Whichever terms you decide to use when referring to your cattle chute and system, the goal are the same; a safe and efficient way to work cattle that is low stress.

References:
Texas Agri-Life Extension
University of Kentucky
Beef 2 Live
Cattle Today
Temple Grandin