Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Working Facility

With the weather turning warmer and cattle on their way to summer pasture, we took some time to regroup around the ranch. Our holding pen worked great for the few head we had to feed over the winter. But it was destined to be more.

This 30' x 80' corral is designed to be the cattle working facility of our new corral system. We just got it closed in when we had a surprise cow and calf that needed feeding. In order to take it to the next level, we had some clean up to do. 

Once we got the feed wagon pulled out, Dad and his 4010 got to work.

While I cleaned the edges and stalls with the ole pitchfork. I'm more of a manual labor guy. 

We piled up the manure and straw so they could cook down over the summer. Next time we work the field we'll scatter it about. 

A tub and alley system, along with a squeeze chute, are the main pieces of equipment needed to work cattle effectively. I've threatened to build one, but it would take so much time and design. I've looked for used ones, but they are usually worse for wear. Then one day at the Co-op I saw this set up that had been setting around for years. I asked Skip about it and he said he'd make us a heck of a deal, which he did. 

Part of that required us loading it and hauling it away. For a job of this magnitude I called in reinforcements. My nephew Carter came to the rescue. With a good attitude and a love for work, we got the whole system bucked on the trailer. 

There were plenty of parts and pieces, and we really weren't sure how it would size up in our little corral. 

I had it all designed in my mind. The tub and alley leading to the chute would divide the corral in two, making two separate pens that would help with sorting. When not in use the shed and water could still be used to house various critters for a short term. Getting the proper placement with the tub before we connected the alley was crucial. 

Once we had that determined and set, we started to piece together the alley. It was necessary that it be dead center of the rest of the corral so that we can get an even workings with rest of the equipment down the line. Three of these segments gives us nearly a 30' run. 

What makes a manufactured alley system almost essential is their engineering to be adjustable. Making the width of the runway as close to the diameter of a cow as possible is necessary for them to flow with ease. Too wide and they constantly try to turn around. Too narrow and they get wedged. This set up, made by Blattner Livestock Equipment in Cimarron KS, adjusts from both sides. Why it is going to work good for us is because at times there will be livestock on both sides of the alley. Most adjustable alleys have big arms and handles that stick off to the side to make them adjust. That is just asking for something to get bent or a critter to get hurt. This unit is smooth on each exterior wall. The adjustment is run by ropes and pins that are hidden behind the bigger frame work. 

This palpation cage will be a nice feature for a whole hosts of scenarios that require a guy to get behind a cow.  

Once a cow is in the chute, throw the door open to the back, which then closes off the rest of the alley. Then palpate in peace. Fr. Zane would find this handy. 

The whole network pretty much lined up without any troubles. Because of a few alterations we made with the tub, we had a bit of welding to do on one side wall. 

Once it was all lined up and pinned together, we moved our old squeeze chute into place. It'll take more work to bolt up more securely, but enough to hold a cow for the time being.

So we went and grabbed a couple critters to see if this dog would hunt. Mom and Andi have been living over at my brother's for the spring. With my move to Buffalo, I don't plan to run cattle the way I have been. So I brought them over to put Dad's brand on them and run them with Luke's bunch for the summer. A Charolais/Red Angus cross makes for one big calf. Andi's still as spry as ever. 

Here's the beauty of a tub. Once they were kicked in the 13' alleyway, with the tub gate already open and the chute ready to catch, then I just walked behind them with the crowding gate and pushed them along so they had no choice but to go down the alley. Makes for more peaceful cows and ranchers. 

This is a bit of an old rickety chute, but it has a self-catching head catch, which allows this whole operation to be a one-man-band (with the exception of Mom to take pictures). To make it even more convenient we used Dad's electric iron. 

Looks good. She's now an official trader cow with three brands all on one side. 

They had already branded Andi earlier this spring, so all she needed was an ear tag. 

Where they are going for the summer, on the southern end of the Big Horns, lends itself to cattle mixups with the neighbors. The more identification markers the better. Reverse L Drawknife in two places should give everybody the hint of whose they are. 

Giddy up. 

It was necessary that we get this tub and alley in place so that we can complete other parts of this corral project. There will be another fence and gate that will nose right into the front of this chute to allow for separate pens when not using the alley and chute, and to help direct traffic when we are using it. Once this working facility has its final touches we can move on to finishing the rest of the corral. Catholic Cowboys don't get ready. They stay ready. On to the next one. 


  1. Temple Grandin would be proud!!

    1. Now that's a complement! Though she might have a few more curves in it. Thanks!


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