May 24, 2016

(Dan) Hey there folks. Welcome to DocTalk. Thanks for joining me today. We’re going to have a fun show. We’re going to talk about some cattle handling things. We’re going to talk about how we move cattle through processing facilities. We’ll talk about the bud box. We’ll talk about tubs. We’ll talk about a lot of different things associated with moving those cattle from the alley to the chute. Stay tuned after these messages.

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(Dan) Hey folks, welcome to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson. Thanks for joining me today. We’re going to talk about moving cattle. I work here at Kansas State University at the College of Veterinary Medicine and I work with the Kansas State Research and Extension group to do things, all things cattle. We really have a lot of good stuff going on here at Kansas State. Just had some enjoyable experiences at Iowa State University, University of Illinois as well. On the road at some producer meetings. Always good to see everybody out there and things that are moving forward. We’re going to talk about moving cattle and specifically as we start to do some stuff with branding or in the Fall with weaning, you know one of the issues on your farm or ranch is moving those cattle from the sorting pen or from the alley to the chute. We specialize in some of that. But the first thing you have to do is you have to read your cattle. That specifically is, where’s the flight zone? The flight zone is when you start to move toward the cattle, when do they start to notice where you’re at? And different cattle, different comfort levels with human beings. If you buy some new cattle that have never seen someone walking on foot they might respond differently because they have only seen people that are horseback and vice versa. If you buy cattle from someone that’s always been on foot and you’re always on horseback, the cattle have to make adjustments. So, understanding the flight zone, understanding the comfort. Also the docility of the cattle is something that will increase or decrease the flight zone. The more docile the cattle are, the closer you will be able to get to them before they notice that you’re there and you can apply pressure to the cattle to make them move. There are different types of cattle and if you’re buying…if we’re branding and we have baby calves we not only have to get up against them, but we actually have to push them sometimes through the snake to put them in the chute or in the calf cradle so that we can process them. If you have cattle that are extremely flighty, you can actually move them before you even start to cross the fence. Applying pressure and understanding that, to give those cattle and to provide safety to you and your crew or your family or your workers, I think is extremely important. Some of the ranch calves, Mexican cattle that come across that have been handled a lot will have lower docility. Some of the calves from some of the big ranches that maybe we haven’t had the experience of being around human beings or been in confined operations, I think then you have to give those cattle some more space. Be very careful to work with them, help train them, help exercise them because as the processing crew, or as the weaning crew, or as that branding crew you’re really that welcome wagon that’s providing the first interaction in the new facility or in the new herd. With the babies or as the weanlings, or as the receiving calves, you’re that welcome wagon to how they’re going to be treated from now on. Start to imprint those cattle so that they understand how they’re going to be handled. When we look at or grade cattle to their processing, we’re going to talk about some things, whether it’s how often you use the hot shot, some of the beef quality assurance strategies hot shot usage, slipping, exit speed from the chute and how you handle those cattle when they get in the chute when we return after these messages. Thanks for watching DocTalk. We appreciate you tuning in, but more after this.

(Dan) Hey there and welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and we’re talking about movement of cattle. The Beef Quality Assurance Program has a Cattle Handling Grading System and they look at different types of measurements of when you work cattle. It’s something you can do on your own. You can go to and at the web site you can find their Cattle Handling Assessment Tool, which will allow you to grade how cattle are moved through your facilities. A lot of times when we’re talking about things that we have to apply hot shots, or we look at cattle exiting the chute at rapid rates, it may be that we have a flaw in the facility, or a flaw in the way that we handle the cattle. And using these tools is really important. The first one is hot shot usage. The upper limit is 10 percent. No more than 10 percent of the cattle should be touched with a hot shot when you’re processing, whether it’s cows, calves, whatever on your facility. Number two is no more than two percent of the cattle should fall or trip exiting the chute. So when we look at at cattle falling, are these cattle trying to scramble to get away? Are we asking the cattle to make a quick right turn or left turn? Do we have proper footing out in front of the chute? Those types of things are things that we have to be focused on to prevent the animals from falling or tripping. Most of the time when I see cattle fall exiting the chute, is we have them come out the chute and then make a quick right or left hand turn, we get a little bit of sheen from the manure and urine tracked out there after working a few cattle and then the cattle slip their feet come out from underneath them, land on their side, stand back up, and then they head down the alley that we’ve asked them to go down. So, giving them a place to exit, making sure that we have proper traction and footing out in front of the chute is really important. No more than four percent of the cattle should vocalize in the chute prior to a procedure. So, if they vocalize during castration or dehorning or putting in an ear tag or an injection, that’s normal and understandable. It’s no different than a child responding from having their ears pierced. But when we start to think about…when we catch them, if they vocalize right when we catch them and apply the squeeze, that a lot of times is a mis-catch. If we’ll just open the sides and let the calf stand up and then apply the pressure, they won’t vocalize. But understanding that is important. There is zero tolerance for a mis-catch and then the animal not being readjusted. So, if we catch it by its temples we need to open it up, let the head come through and catch that animal by the neck. The last one is no more than 25 percent of the cattle should run exiting the chute. Now, this is a not a lope down the hill or a lope away from the chute. This is a tail’s up, somebody did something bad to me back there, I’m outta here type of run out of your facility. So, no more than 25 percent of the cattle should exit the chute in that manner. We can actually look at the speed of cattle exiting. The faster they exit sometimes will be very correlated with decrease in performance. When we come back we’re going to talk a little bit about Bud Boxes and Tub Systems and some of the pitfalls that can happen if you don’t put those in correctly or if you try to put too many cattle through them. You’re watching DocTalk. We appreciate you watching us. More after these messages.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here and we’re talking about cattle handling. I can’t take credit for…I have learned so much from so many people over the years. I spent a lot of time working on cattle handling with producers and ranchers and whether it’s Dr. Tom Noffsinger, Dr. Temple Grandin, Curt Pate, Ron Gill, Bud Williams, so many different people throughout my career that I have been very fortunate to learn from and understand, but I probably learned as much also from you. When I am working on your ranch or your farm and I see the creativity and the ingenuity of our ranchers and farmers and feedlot operators, it’s really heartwarming as we continue to improve cattle handling. The first thing in the lead up alley that I look at is traction. If you want to increase the flight zone or increase anxiety in cattle, if we don’t have proper traction, to where the animal can be mobile, the animal will understand that and it increases anxiety and will increase the flight zone and actually make the cattle harder to work. Once we have traction we’re going to look at moving those cattle into either a tub from an alley or into the Bud Box. The first thing about cattle handling is understanding that cattle like to move from areas of dark to light, rather than light to dark. It makes some sense. They’re not afraid of shade, but we have a lot of issues with transitioning from outside to inside in a processing barn. So, understanding how to work with shade, how to improve lighting, how to improve cattle moving into these facilities is very important. The other thing is when we move to a tub. Let’s start out with a tub system here. Temple Grandin was very instrumental in starting the tub system. The one thing that we have to understand about a tub, or the two biggest pitfalls I see with a tub is one, the entrance to the tub has to be the same width as the alley that’s coming up to that tub. So, if you have a 12 foot alley, you need to have a 12 foot tub. If you have a 10 foot alley, you need to have a 10 foot tub. If we have a narrower entrance to the tub, then we tend to have cattle that will wedge or cattle that will ball up and return to us in that alley or in that system. The other one is the angle in which, and here’s a picture of a tub system here, but we have to understand the angle in which these cattle are going to move within this system. If these cattle come down and as you can see this is properly drawn, and they almost return in 180 degree fashion to where they’re going back, this is properly adjusted. It’s for safety. The only thing you should see is tails going around the corner of that tub system as you’re grabbing the gate and shutting it. When I see issues is when we have the alley come straight and you go straight from just a curved bubble area of the tub right into the snake area. When we have issues there is that cattle don’t go around the system, they don’t use their normal behavior movement and they see that they’re going to be crowded into that snake and they…if that angle of that alley coming into the tub is not such that it’s almost 180 degrees where those cattle are going around the center portion of that tub and going into the snake, you’ll have cattle continuing to come back on you. It’s very important to have it designed properly for human and worker safety. When we come back we’ll talk a little bit about the Bud Box and we’ll talk about getting those cattle into the snake. You’re watching DocTalk. Thanks for watching. More after these messages.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk, talking about cattle handling. When we left we were talking about the tub. The one rule about the tub system is the tub should never be more than half full. It should never be less than half full. We want it to be half full. We want the cattle to be able to move. One of the problems I see with tubs is people put too many cattle in the tub at once, as you see in this picture. A tub is not a tube of toothpaste. You don’t fill it up and then squeeze the cattle into the snake. Now let’s move to the Bud Box. I wish we’d have known about a Bud Box years ago. Whether it’s outside cattle, feedlot cattle or shipping fats, the Bud Box is ingenious in its design and it’s named after Bud Williams. But basically it is two panels long and a panel wide. As you can see from this system, the cattle are going to be brought up the alley, they’re going to be moved into this box system, which again is two panels long…if you have six panels you can build a Bud Box. Here it is two panels long, one panel on the end and you can see the snake entrance is right here. We will run the cattle into the Bud Box. Rule number one, you cannot bring more cattle to the Bud Box than fit in the snake at once. So if your snake holds three cattle, you can only bring three at a time. If your snake holds 10 cattle you can bring 10 at a time. But that’s rule number one. You bring those cattle, they come to this point, we’re going to catch the gate right here and then you’re going to position yourself or your horse at this position, you’re going to walk forward. As you walk forward, you can see from this video, as these gentlemen come up, they shut the gate, they’re going to then move forward and then as they move forward within the system, the cattle just go around and go straight into that Daniels Alley. Really working with a Bud Box is very important. It’s been something that has decreased injuries and improved cattle handling out on the ranch. It’s also improved the cattle handling within feedyards and within packing operations. Now one thing about it is a good tub system and a good Bud Box system work very well. Don’t go ripping out one facility and pay a lot of money for another, but if you’re going to build a new facility, you need to understand the difference between these. When you start to look at these different systems understand which one works the best for you. I think that they’re both safe. They’re both outstanding. If you’re going to just use panels, you can build a Bud Box out in the pasture with six panels. Just put it at the end of the alley, move it right into the snake, right into the chute. Improve the safety of you, your family and everybody that’s working around these cattle. I sure appreciate you watching DocTalk today. It’s been a fun show. It’s one of those things that I spend a lot of time out in the field working on. We’re going to move out into the field and show you some of these principles this Summer as the show goes on and into the Fall. We’re going to have a lot of fun. Thanks to our sponsors. Remember always work with your local veterinarian and if you want to know more about us you can find us at I’m Dr. Dan Thomson. Thanks for watching DocTalk and I’ll see you down the road.

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