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Top 10 Expert Cattle Alley Design Tips

Cow in Easy Flow Cattle Alley

1. Think from a Cow’s Eye View

“If we take a cow’s eye view … what do we see when we go into a solid-sided 180-degree curve? We see a wall, a large ‘bovine stop sign’” – Whit Hibbard, Bud Williams School of Stockmanship

2. Allow Cattle to See the Exit

“Any animal looking down the open straight [alley leading to the] chute can see a clear escape route at the end” – Debbie Furber, Canadian Cattlemen

3. Give them Good Traction

“Cattle who feel unstable in their footing do not stay in the frame of mind to move calmly through a … system” – Hibbard

4. Use Back-Stops to Your Advantage

Spring loaded, back-stop[s are] useful to prevent cattle from backing up” and rearing up in the alley – Rory Lewandowski, Ohio State University Extension

5. Place Alley Gates Strategically

Well-placed “sliding gates so animals can’t back up make it safer when working around cattle”, as they prevent cattle backing and control movement through your handling system – Cody Creelman, Veterinarian 

6. Keep your Width in Check

“The width of [the] alley varies depending on the size of cattle being processed. It should be side enough for cattle to move forward without much resistance but not wide enough for them to turn around” – Dr. Justin Rhinehart, University of Tennessee Extension 

7. Let the Cattle See You

The natural behavior for a prey animal to avoid a predator is to move in the opposite direction when the predator passes by its shoulder. To move an animal forward, pass by its shoulder in the opposite direction at a quick walk” – Robert Borg, Alberta Agriculture 

8. Move Uphill

“Cattle tend to move uphill easier than downhill. If there is a slope, point the alley uphill.” – Lewandowski

9. Prepare for Emergencies

Emergency release panels are sections of the working alley that can be removed or opened to let animals out that have fallen down and become stuck in the chute” – Dr. Tom R. Troxel & Dr. Shane Gadberry, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture 

10. Go Towards the Light

“Cattle … move best from dark areas to light areas. Facility layouts should be designed so that cattle do not look directly into the sun” – Lewandowski

Are there any alley design tips we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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