When owning large animals, it is important that good handling facilities are available.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to build some on your own property – consider borrowing your neighbour’s or purchasing portable steelyards. Yards make routine activities (drenching, ear tagging, vaccination, shearing) easier, and many veterinary procedures are unachievable without them.
The requirements for cattle and sheep vary and cattle yards can be used for sheep. Basic facilities include:
- Yard: An enclosed pen to hold animals and where animals can be caught.
- Race: Two fences with a gap between them large enough to fit animals in a line. Enclosed at each end with a gate/head-bail.
- Head-bail: A device which holds the head of a cow for examination. Most farming stores stock these.
- Loading ramp: An elevated race with flooring which slopes off the ground for loading animals onto transport trucks. Slats should be fitted on the floor to give grip when animals walk up the ramp.
Specifications for these facilities are:
- Yard: Large enough to hold a few sheep but small enough so that animals can be cornered and caught. 3m x 3m but depends on the size of your flock. All fences should be 850 to 900mm high, which reduces sheep jumping out but can be leaned over for procedures.
- Race: Around 700mm wide and 3m long.
- Loading ramp (optional): 3 – 4.5m long sloping up to a 1m loading height and around 700mm wide.
- Yard: At a bare minimum a yard with a race is required for safe handling of cattle without using sedation. Size depends on the age/size and number of cattle. 4m x 4m to hold a few adult cattle. Must be made of sturdy materials – posts around 200mm diameter and cemented into the ground, steel rails around 75mm diameter or heavy-duty timber for the sides.
- Race: Internal width 650mm – 700mm and long enough for one cattle beast, but preferably two.
- Head-bail: Fitted at the end of the race.
- Loading ramp (optional): 3.5 – 4.6m long up to a rise of 1.2m loading height. Internal width around 750mm.
If you have any specific questions regarding your stock or facilities one of our veterinarians will be happy to advise you.