Safe and efficient cattle handling is a top priority for cattle producers. It takes knowledge of animal behavior and proper handling techniques to get the most out of your cattle and cattle working facilities. Well-designed facilities do not make up for lack of proper handling. Here are three tips for getting the most of your cattle working facilities.

1. Remove distractions
Cattle go into stress and hesitate with distractions. For example, a white Styrofoam cup that falls into the working pen or a shirt hanging on a post can startle cattle. Shadows in the alley can also stop smooth cattle flow. You want to remove the items that cause these distractions and create an even flow of light to have a more efficient cattle handling experience. Another way to cut down on distractions is to cover the back three­ quarters of the squeeze chute to reduce balking as the cattle enter the chute.

2. Don’t fill the crowd pen too full
Temple Grandin suggests filling the crowd pen half-full when working animals through a chute. This allows the crowd pen to become a passing-through pen and keep the cattle moving forward rather than turning back. It also allows you to have room to turn the cattle around. Grandin says, “Don’t squish them in there. Animals have to be able to move freely and see where they are going. They’ve got to be able to see the entrance, so sometimes switching the side you work from in the pen makes a difference.”

3.Properly maintain equipment
Do a walkthrough of the equipment before you get started, and make sure everything is in working order. You may need to apply oil to areas that need oil—repair parts of the fence that need repair. Handling the maintenance before getting started allows the working day to go smoothly.