Work has continued on our improved stock yards, albeit a little slower after my father returned home. I was really happy with the new layout, but had a bit of work to finish the yards, and make them suitable for handling sheep as well as cattle.
The design of cattle yards world wide was revolutionised by Temple Grandin. She recognised that cattle move much more effectively along a curved chute. She also realised that if the yards are visually solid, the cattle are far more likely to move towards open areas. It is hard to incorporate all her ideas in such a small set of yards, but we tried as much as possible to follow her philosophy in our design.
The yards are a mixture of panels, with various shapes and sizes bought at different times. We were able to re-use all the panels – although at times we had to get a bit creative to get the joining pins in place. My main focus was to ensure the exterior sections of the yards were stock proof, and in the areas that would receive the most pressure, I fixed the conveyor belt to the panels.
Fortunately I had an old length of conveyor belt in the ‘resource centre’ that could serve two purposes. It will provide a visual barrier for the cattle and a physical barrier to keep the sheep, especially lambs, in the yards. Unfortunately the belt is extremely heavy to work, but once it is unwound, it becomes a little more manageable.
The supervisor wasn’t much help! Although to be fair, the afternoon sunshine was rather soporific.
The holding yard was another story. We created a large yard using panels and weld-mesh. Weld-mesh is not ideal for yards. Horned stock can get their horns caught in it, and younger cattle and sheep can get their feet and legs tangled also. But in this yard, the stock will not be subject to the same pressure they are in the holding yard, and again we used curved lines as much as possible to encourage the stock into the forcing yard with minimal fuss. The mesh was fixed to the panels using tie-wire.
It is a lot better than the gates held together with bailing twine that were used to form this yard originally.
And so, what do the stock think of it? The Little Helper and I only rammed in the last anchor a couple of days ago, so we haven’t got around to testing the improved yards yet. I have continued to move the cattle every week or so to a new area, and they are really responding well to a gentle nudge – but it will be a few more weeks until I have them back in that part of the farm.
It is a relief to know that if we do need to bring the sheep or cattle into the yards for any reason, we now have a safe and secure place to work them.