Cattle yards and safety

There are many hazards associated with handling livestock. From mechanical and chemical hazards to dusts and biological hazards, working with cattle can be a risky business.

Good yard design and a functional set of cattle yards are absolutely key in staying safe while working with livestock. Smooth movement of cattle, people and work not only improves safety, it also builds efficiency.

Here are a few tips to make your cattle yards as safe (and productive) as possible:

Design of the yard
Be sure to design yards for the way cattle behave – providing appearance of clear space ahead and reducing distractions will “draw” cattle through yards.

Similarly, design yards with the safety of people in mind – consider self-latching gates, ready access and escape, surfaces that reduce risk of trips and falls, and isolation from the animal hazard.

Yards should be centrally located to allow easy mustering from all parts of the property and accessible to vehicles by a good all-weather road.

The design of yards need not be overly complicated. The simplest designs are often the most effective.

The yards
Crucially, yards need to be adequate for the number of animals being handled. Overcrowding poses an unnecessary risk to handlers and cattle.

Many experts recommend operating on a 1.5 square metre of yards per adult animal rule of thumb.

Areas of the yard that receive a lot of pressure from stock — such as gateways, forcing yard and race — need to be sturdy and well-constructed. Maintenance is critical. Latches, hinges and gates all need to be in top working order.

Investing in a good quality set of yards is important. To hear why cattle yards are so important from another farmer, check out Hugh’s story.