Many people take it for granted that acquiring good beef is as easy as
taking a drive to the nearest meat shop. Everyday, people from all over
the world eat meat; not giving a thought to the effort (in research and
in physical work) it took for that piece of Angus steak to get in the
market. If you plan to start a
cattle farming business and be part of a
billion-dollar industry, there are a lot of things you have to learn,
such as cattle handling.
There is more to cattle handling that just being able to rope a cow
moving at 20 miles per hour. What you need to do is learn the ropes.
That is just the first aspect though, the second aspect in cattle
handling is getting the right equipment.
Learning the Ropes
You need to know about the animals that you are going to take care of.
Most cattle farmers also take care of horses, and some raise poultry.
You need to know about those animals because you need to anticipate
their actions, and the situations that they would most likely be in, and
you need to know how you can react to it. For example, you need to know
how to move them from one place to another without getting them all
wired up. You also need to know about diseases - whether those illnesses
are fatal, contagious or common in your area.
One surefire way to do this is by working on a cattle farm. Nothing
beats first-hand knowledge. If you are hell-bent on starting your own as
soon as you can, then what you can do is talk to veterinarians, other
ranchers, your neighbors, and the locals (especially if you have just
moved in). Another way to learn about cattle handling is by checking on
online resources. There are community forums for cattle farmers. Join
one, ask around and start learning.
Now, aside from learning the fundamentals of
raising cattle, you need to
get the right cattle handling equipment. The items under this list are
calf tables, squeeze chutes, cattle headgates, cattle scales and other
accessories. Note that these are needed in keeping the animals still for
veterinary check-ups and weighing, as well as in moving the cattle.
Calf tables are commonly used in veterinary check-ups, castration, and
branding. Some calf tables have an adjustable floor width and a leg
hobble for castration.
Cattle headgates are used in catching cattle, sick or otherwise. Some
cattle headgates are automatic. They have a self-catching mechanism that
allows you to catch cattle without a partner - just run the cow up the
alley, and you're good to go. Squeeze chutes are 'containers' for
cattle. These are used in transporting cattle and for injections since
they restrict movement. Some squeeze chutes come with levers for
adjusting floor height, removable bottom panels for access and a hook to
connect to a truck or a vehicle cab.
Other cattle handling accessories are head chains, headgate frames or
stands and cattle scales.
After learning the ropes and getting equipment, you should be ready to
engage in serious cattle handling activities. Just remember that
whatever you do, and whatever you use, it should be as cowboy-friendly
and as cow-friendly as possible. Your safety matters; and your cattle's
health is important too. After all, they are, literally and figuratively
speaking, your milking cows.
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