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A curved "V" (tapered) race leading to a covered crush

A cattle race (Australia, British Isles and New Zealand) also called a cattle chute or run or alley (North America)[1][2] is a narrow corridor built for cattle, sheep, pigs and other animals to travel through when being herded from one location to another that is nearby. A conventional race consists of parallel panels or fences with a space between them just wide enough for one animal to pass through comfortably without being able to turn around, thus forming the animals into a queue that only allows them to go forward.[3] It is used for routine husbandry activities such as drafting (sorting) or loading animals via ramp or loading chute into a vehicle; placing them one at a time in a cattle crush (variations also called a squeeze chute or standing stock) for examination, marking or veterinary treatment. They are also used at packing plants to move animals into a crush designed for slaughter.


An experimental humane design of cattle run, by Temple Grandin, gradually narrows so that cattle have ample time to form the queue, and curves to encourage cattle to move forward in a controlled manner (see photo).

Calves (and other smaller animals such as sheep) can turn around in an adult cattle race, so a narrower race is required for proper handling. Thus the width of some races are adjustable to accommodate different sized animals.

Portable cattle yards including a head bail, Gunnedah, NSW

Cattle races may be portable, or may be a permanent fixture with a concrete walkway. Portable races may be made of steel, iron or aluminium; but modern permanent ones are usually of steel or iron (sometimes timber or even concrete) which is usually set in concrete, with solid or railed sides and a non-slip floor. Anti-bruise races do not have sharp edges, and instead use pipe with rounded edges such as oval rails; alternatively sides with sheet iron or steel can be found or built onto the races, which improves livestock movement and also prevents injuries from animals getting their legs or heads caught between the rails. Races that have concrete floors have the flooring made wider than the race itself to prevent hooves catching between the bottom rail and the edge of the concrete. The concrete is also not smooth like that on city sidewalks but roughed out to give the animals more traction to prevent slipping and injury. Lower parts of the race have side panels that may be removable in the event of an animal becoming cast (fallen) or caught up in which the animal is needed to be freed to prevent further injury.

The length of the race is usually determined by the size of the herd – a longer one requires less penning-up of a larger herd. Longer races may be curved, to improve the movement of the animals. However races longer than 24 feet (7.3 m) tend to cause trouble with the flow of the animals into the loading chute or cattle crush. A walkway may be provided on the outside of the race, on one or both sides, to allow handlers easier handling, examination or treatment of animals from above.

There are gates at the start and end of the race to regulate the movement of animals. The entrance is from a small funnel-shaped or semi-circular forcing pen (or forcing yard or crowding tub), where a gate is used to move cattle into the race. The gates are usually arranged so the operator cannot become trapped or injured by the cattle. This is achieved in several ways:

  • using a sliding gate operated from outside the race, commonly found between the exit of the crowding tub and the entrance to the race, in the middle of the race itself, or at the end of the race in entrance to the crush or loading chute;
  • unlatching exit gates by a remotely operated cord;
  • or for a forcing pen gate which uses a self-locking brake-latch that will lock if animals move back on it but be pushed forward by the handler. A latch is pulled back to unlock the gate so that it can open to another batch of livestock waiting to be forced in behind the previous batch. This forcing pen gate can swing at an angle of 180° to 300°.
A calf race leading to a calf cradle

The exit from the race may be through a drafting gate (or shedding gate), which swings to open one or another of several exits for separating animals into various groups.

Calf race/cradle[edit]

A calf race and cradle makes calf branding and castration much quicker and cleaner. The calf is forced into a crush, like that of a normal crush, except it is pushed to one side and held by steel bars as shown in the photo on the right. Note that the bars are nowhere near the belly region of the calf, only located on the neck and in front of the stifle. Then one side of the crush is tipped 90°, exposing the side of the calf to be branded or examined. Calf cradles are available in temporary or permanent styles like that described above. The steel transportable race and table cradle, as shown in the photo, are very popular in Australia and New Zealand, but are also found in North America.


  1. ^ "Cattle handling equipment", bowmanenterprisesnet.com
  2. ^ "SWEEPS & ALLEYS", filsonlivestockequip.com.
  3. ^ Doyle, Philip W., Beef Cattle Yards, NSW Dept. of Agriculture, 1979.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattle_race — Please support Wikipedia.
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36 news items

The Hindu
Sat, 06 Sep 2014 23:11:15 -0700

The conduct of cattle race amounted to cruelty to animals, which was prohibited under Section 11(1) (a) of the 1960 Act as it involved beating, overdriving, and other methods of physical ill-treatment of the animals to run beyond their capacity, he said.

The Dominion Post

The Dominion Post
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 20:30:00 -0800

The scene of the crash, where the car left the road and hit a cattle race. A Whanganui man has been killed a single-car crash near Bulls. The vehicle Shane Edgecombe, 20, was driving was spotted by a member of the public down a bank off State Highway 3 ...

Deccan Chronicle

Deccan Chronicle
Wed, 15 Oct 2014 16:48:45 -0700

The case related to the conduct of a bull race in Malappuram district for which the petitioners, Cattle Race Club of India, won a favourable verdict. Following the verdict, the race was conducted on October 11. The ABWI came to know of the development ...

Indian Express

Indian Express
Mon, 03 Nov 2014 22:56:48 -0800

Colours, culture, camels and camera come together at the Pushkar Cattle Fair 2014. A horse owner walks past the Pushkar Mela and towards the stadium where cattle race will take place. (Source: Express photo by Abhimanyu Chakravorty). Colours, culture ...

Yorkshire Post

Yorkshire Post
Fri, 06 Feb 2015 18:37:30 -0800

Monica, who is 16, loves to be groomed which we do in the field but the others are a little more timid and need to be in the cattle race to be groomed. My wife Wendy has come on leaps and bounds from being extremely scared around the cattle to now ...

Queensland Country Life

Queensland Country Life
Mon, 01 Dec 2014 09:03:54 -0800

ROB Cook's tenacity is a force to be reckoned with. Advances in on-farm technology have enabled the cattle producer and Nuffield scholar to continue to play an active role in the beef industry after a helicopter crash rendered him a quadriplegic in 2008.
New Zealand Herald
Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:00:32 -0700

"They pulled up at the neighbour's place and a couple of armed offenders squad ran up my cattle race. "There was a helicopter circling up ahead, I went out to have a look and a swag of police cars pulled up." He said there were at least seven police cars.

Western Morning News

Western Morning News
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 01:03:32 -0700

Dick carries out an annual round-up of the herd, gathering all the animals together through a run, like a cattle race, to count them, check them over and mark each fawn with a tag that ensures it can be accurately aged. “We tag all last year's fawns ...

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