QUESTION: We need to rework our corral and get a new chute. Do you have any suggestions? Who makes the best chutes?
ANSWER: Asking who makes the best cattle chute is sort of like asking who makes the best pickup truck. Want to start a fight? Start talking about religion, politics or pickups.
A lot of this is personal preference. I prefer scissor-type headcatches, but others prefer pivoting, self-catching types. I really like chutes that squeeze straight inward rather than in a V shape. I think cattle just seem to do better with a light, equal squeeze.
Chute size and weight must be matched with cattle size. Don't buy more than you need, but be sure you get enough. There is nothing more stressful than trying to work large cattle in a chute that's too small.
The most common design flaw I see in corrals is the lanes are too wide. While corrals that are adjustable with crowding alleys are ideal, they are expensive. If this is not an option, alleys 28 to 30 inches wide are enough for most cattle. If you have really large cattle, your alleys may need to be a little wider, but you may have a problem with calves turning around in them. Making alleys V-shaped can help with this, but when a cow or bull goes down, it can be difficult to get them up.
Alleys that gently curve take advantage of the natural tendency of cattle to circle, and solid walls also help keep cattle moving forward. A "crowding tub" with a crowding or sweep gate at least 12 feet long makes getting cattle into the chute much less stressful on man and beast.
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