It’s a new year, time to make plans and goals for the future. If improving your handling system in on your list of projects for the coming year, here’s a few ideas for you!
Make sure all your latches work right. and all gates have a working chain safety latch on them.
Oil/WD-40/grease the hinges on all the gates. This makes them easier to swing, quieter, and longer lasting.
Replace any bent and nonoperational gates that you’ve been fighting for years.
Use continuous fence panels and screw on clips to fix fence-This is strong, and can be reused to build a new set of corrals later if you’re planning to replace it.
Try to eliminate shadows as much as possible. install some skylights, or put up some LED lighting above your alleys and tub. Getting rid of all shadows is hard to do, but focus on the tub and alley areas for the best bang for your buck.
Put up some lights for your work space. If you ever have to work into the evening, the lights will be well worth it, especially if you’re having to write anything down, or work with needles or AI straws.
Tire mats are worth the money, especially in tubs, alleys, and right in front of your chute. Anywhere cows are slipping on concrete, spend some money (or time) on a woven tire mat is a good investment.
Build a room or box for your hydraulic pump. The pump on a Silencer chute is anything but silent. In fact, it’s rather annoying to listen to all day in my opinion. Make a little room or box to put it in, this will keep the noise down, the rain off, and can help keep it warm in the winter. Make sure you can open up a door to make good ventilation in hot weather.
Did you just make a room for your chute? now head down to the plumbing section of your local hardware store and buy a closet flange. Why??? Well, it’s a really slick way to get thru a wall with a couple hydraulic hoses and a drop cord! Don’t forget a hole saw while you’re there!
Change the filter on your hydraulic chute. What? your chute doesn’t have a filter? Here’s one on Surplus Center, now go grab some wrenches and put one on!
If you just changed your filter and the oil looks like whipped topping and strawberry jam, you should grab 5 or 10 gallons of new oil. Better make it 15, because you’re gonna need to flush out the lines. Most chutes use just a common tractor hydraulic oil from the farm store, but Silencers (and maybe a few others) use Dexron 3/Mercon ATF. Call the manufacturer if youre not sure.
While you’re changing filters, the breathers on those hydraulic units are usually plugged up, pick one up and replace it. Try to get your chute in a little room and that will help with the dust as well.
Buy or make some vaccine gun coolers. Their are some great ones on the market, but you can also use a shitty old cooler, some PVC pipe and a hole saw to make one yourself.
a case of cheap caulking can make a huge difference if you have any sheet metal in your corrals. This is one of the least used tricks for making everything quiet. Just take some caulking and run a bead around every place that sheet metal touches a rail. Make sure the surface is clean (an air blower works good) and make sure that it sticks to both sides. It doesn’t take much but it will make a huge difference. Do this on old equipment and brand new stuff as well, you won’t regret it.
Take a drone picture of your corrals to use in planning your work, this is especially useful if you have new guys working with you. You can also use it for planning any additions and changes.
Have any old ATV tires? cut them up and wire them to any gates that are always banging. A little rubber can make a lot of difference to the noise everything makes. Especially on solid alleys and gates.
Put in a “no back” or sliding gate in your alley to keep them from backing up. One at the back of the alley is most valuable, and one that can hold 1 cow right behind the chute is the next most valuable.
Heavy duty zip ties make great hydraulic hose organizers, and Radiator hose makes great protectors Tie your hoses up so they stop rubbing on sharp edge and getting holes in them!
Want to change something with your corrals? draw it up, then try making it on SketchUp or another drafting program. Permanent corrals are a big investment, and it’s hard to visualize what you’re wanting to build. This is especially true if you’re working around existing corrals. Being able to virtually get inside the corrals and see what the new system will look like is a game changer for designing.
SketchUp is the program I use and it’s pretty intuitive. Several manufacturers offer design services, so if you’re buying a chute, make sure that you take advantage of that.
If you would like some help, I’d love to chat. Use the contact form on the website, or shoot me a message on Facebook.
Good luck in the coming year! Stay on your toes and stay safe working cattle.