We built a feed pen with a loading chute for our cows. We can use it some for spraying but we really need to be able to get up close and personal for vaccinations, etc. One friend who has Dexters said they bought a head gate but could not use it with the Dexters. Some day I hope all my cows are gentle enough not to need it, but for now I need to know what works best. Thoughts and suggestions both positive and negative would be appreciated!
Post by midhilldexters on Mar 25, 2011 14:50:04 GMT -5
Hi, I'm unsure why your friends would not be able to use the headgate with their Dexters, can you elaborate? I have an older Priefert model and have it attached to a home built chute, it seems to work well for all the animals I have. The horned cows learn to turn their head and put it through the gate. I just had the vet here to do bloodwork on a young bull that is going to Canada, without the headgate he would not have been able to tattoo or tag him in safety. Some vets refuse to even come to your farm if you have no facilities, the animal is also safe when it is restrained. Not sure what else you would like to know?
According to her, the horns were the problem. Their small stature with the horn caused problems. First time users don't know to turn their heads and if I didn't have some rather longish horns to deal with, I might not need the head gate at all. Would using a headgate for regular sized calves work? My cows run the gamut from 750 pound cows to 350 pound yearling heifers to an 800 pound bull. Will any one gate work for all?
Post by midhilldexters on Mar 25, 2011 16:09:32 GMT -5
Well a horned animal may need a bit more time going into the headgate to assess the situation maybe, but any horned animal that is used to putting its head into a round bale feeder wouldn't have a problem with a headgate. Maybe an automatic one would be a problem, I could see that. For my rather large horned cow I had the headgate partially closed, but open enough so she could get her head tilted and her horns put in, then I closed the gate tighter on her. Now I did have to encourage her with a couple of treats the first time, it's not like she wanted to be in there lol. The only problem with smaller animals for me is the chute rather than the headgate, they can turn around in it, so generally someone else behind them helps to guide them in. Other makes of headgate may be more complicated, hopefully others will chip in with their brand and their experience to help you out. Oh the gate I have (Priefert) works for calves to a bull weighing about 1000Lbs.
Carol is right about the automatic gate being a problem with horns. An automatic gate is set to trip when pressure is exherted on it from the cow's side. With other breeds, it's the shoulders that trip them, but a Dexter's horns will trip the gate before the head gets in.
I have a head gate that can be used either manually or automatically. It helps to have two people or some patience, because one has to man the gate. You wait for the cow to turn her horns and slip her head in before releasing the gate doors. If you're not quick enough, she can get her shoulders through and then she can go the rest of the way through.
I cordon off the area outside the head gate so others can't get to it. Then I set a bucket of sweet feed just outside the head gate. The cow or bull or calf will readily come to the gate and stick their head through, into the bucket. If I put the bucket in the right place, the gate will catch them right across the neck and the deed is done.
If they manage to slip through, the cattle panels I used to cordon off the front will force them to go back around for a second try.
I consider the head gate invaluable for getting a good tattoo. I did some of the worst tattoos ever, before. Now I hold the cattle as long as I need to do a good tattoo, add some more ink, and rub it in with my fingers. By the time I'm finished, the animal has almost gotten over being mad about it.
We have a headgate in one pasture and a squeeze chute in another pasture. We started with just the headgate and it can meet our needs about 80% of the time. For some work however, a squeeze chute is much safer. The squeeze chute is a lot more expensive. I think you should make a decision based on the number of cows you plan to have and how much vet work you intend to do yourself.
Thanks for all the suggestions. I do appreciate them. My current setup would allow me to build a medina hinge by adding only a couple of posts and a gate to the existing exit chute on my feed pen. Gonna try it real soon.