Do head-lock barriers make handling of cattle easier?

On my travels, I have come across many dairy and beef farmers that have installed head-lock feeding barriers in their sheds.

Despite the extra cost of installing such barriers (compared to standard ones) these offer farmers a safe and easier way of handling cattle.

On a visit to a new beef-finishing unit, I spoke to a farmer about his decision to install these barriers and if it was worth the extra investment.

He said: “I had to bite the bullet with regards to installing some extra features. However, the head-lock gates are just a necessity on farms in my opinion if you want to handle cattle safely.

“They were well worth the investment, especially when I am working with cows that are calving or the bulls.

“If I have to dose cows or handle a sick calf in the pen, all I have to do is throw some concentrates in front of them and they’re locked in and I can work safely among them,” he concluded.

Head-lock barriers offer a number of benefits such as:

  • They allow safe and easy handling of cattle;
  • They reduce the incidence of bullying at the feed face;
  • Head width can be adjusted to suit different sizes;
  • The control lever can be connected to a row of head-locks;
  • All the cattle can be released at one time.

The top priority for farmers when working with cattle should be safety. Furthermore, a head-lock feed barrier can eliminate or delay the need to install a crush.

Simply offering concentrates at the feed face, and setting the gates to lock when the cattle put their heads through, can allow the farmers to dose or vaccinate safely and quickly without having to take them out of the shed.

Image source: O’Donovan Engineering