5 Tips for Building a Better Bud Box and Double Alley
Keeping livestock as calm as possible while processing them is a high priority — for both their sake and the handler’s. An optimally planned bud box design helps greatly in this operation. Thanks to Bud Williams, the original designer who leveraged his understanding of animal behavior, you too can build your very own bud box system!
Here are five tips to consider before beginning:
Use a double alley structure. Having two cattle initially enter the bud box cattle handling system works better than a single one, since their natural instinct is travel as a herd. However, the double alley should become single file about one-third of the way down, and it should include “no-back gates” that keep the animals from backing up once they have moved forward.
Optimize cattle flow. While using a double alley in conjunction with a bud box, load the number of cattle that can fit in the alley in the bud box cattle pen. The cattle will then move toward the target area without the opportunity to turn around. Keep in mind that a bud box is a flow-through part of the facility. Cattle should never be stored in the box pen waiting to be sent into the crowd alley or to a trailer. Allow them to enter and let them exit back out immediately.
Keep all sides straight and adjustable. Having straight dividers supports the livestock upright as they turn, and more stability means more confidence. When cattle become nervous, they place their feet apart at a wider distance than normal. Having adjustable sides gives them space to make this stance, and cattle appreciate nothing more than feeling surefooted. Consider using materials like rubber to inspire friendly footing.
Don’t enclose all sides. It is absolutely imperative to have the end of the box open so that cattle are going toward light and are building speed as they enter the box. Solid panels should be limited to the bud box’s entry gate and the sides of the box closest to the crowd alley and load-out exits.
Heed these ideal bud box dimensions. The bud box pen should be large enough to accommodate enough cattle to fill the crowd alley or a trailer compartment. A crowd alley to a squeeze chute should hold a minimum of 4 cows and might need to hold 20 head, depending on the speed of processing. Crowd alleys on cow-calf operations will typically hold 5 to 6 cows. Facilities working calves or yearlings routinely need crowd alleys for 12 to 20 head of cattle.
For most operations, a bud box should be 12 to 14 feet wide and 20 to 30 feet deep, depending on the number of cattle needed to flow through the system at any given time. Always leave the back open or translucent, and cover the sides and entrance gate if necessary.
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