Shirt Tail Relativity

I watched a presentation a while back that showed Ron Gill loading calves or light yearlings in a truck from a bud box, and it could not have went any smoother. Then they switched the video to a large famous Texas ranch weighing calves and it was terrible to watch. Lots of crew, lots of pressure and total chaos and not much success, (if you want things smooth). They could not get the gate shut before the calves came back and got by them.

One fella I remember real well was on foot, really working hard he was jumping around trying to keep the cattle going to get the gate closed . He had a white shirt on and it was untucked from all the work he was doing.



Now I seen Ron put lots of cattle through a Bud Box. He has seen me put lots of cattle through a Bud Box. Sometimes they go in and out very well. Sometimes it’s not as smooth, but we always seem to get them through pretty well. In a demo, it’s all about how the cattle take and move away from pressure before they get to the box or tub.


I LIKE THIS SYSTEM FOR DEMONSTRATIONS- It would be better if the alley was 12 foot, but place only had 10 foot gates so we had to go with 10 foot alley.

I was doing Demos with another fellow that is a real good stockman. I was doing demos at the same time on pen work so I didn’t get to watch his demo.
He was working in a Danials designed system that had a deep box and an angled gate that goes to a double alley lead up to the chute.

At supper we discussed things and he was real disappointed in how the calves worked. He didn’t like the box was designed and didn’t think it was really a Bud Box but more of a old style wedge or “V” system.

The next day he had a tub system and at supper he told me he had to have someone stop the cattle from going up the chute from the tub, so he could show some things.

The last night he was very frustrated with demos. He was back in a Danials system and the cattle would just not go in for him. He was really down on doing demos.

This man is an excellent stockman. He knows how to work cattle right. We discussed lots of things at supper, and in a later conversation he told me he really didn’t like the way tubs worked, and that Bud Boxes were much better(I’m not quoting here, just telling you the general ideas of the conversation.) I found it interesting that of the three days of working, the tub system worked so well he had to get someone to stop them from going in, and he had trouble with the other system. It’s his opinion and I’m not disagreeing with his opinion, I just saw that what we see in our own situation is not the same as someone else’s way of seeing it. You see(a little humor in case you don’t see what I’m talking about.)

In Canada, there are many Danials systems in use and they are very popular. Everyone wants them and they are seen by the majority of folks as the best system. They have been promoted by some real good stockmanship instructors up there.

I have watched lots of cattle go through them and they flow very nicely. I remember a Mennonite boy on a processing crew really working it very well and the cattle just went through the system great.

Temple Grandin and I were doing a demo up in Great Falls, Montana a year or so ago. When you work with Temple she likes to use a tub(we have done some with a Bud Box, and she was very positive about it).


ALL TUBS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL-Temple sent me this design she likes.

The alley and tub were a real nice system that Temple liked. The pen leading into the alley was real big, and the alley was lined with solid white , and three of us horseback could barely get the very gentle two year old heifers up to it. I had to put lots of pressure on them to get them even to the tub. Once in the tub we could get them to flow pretty easy. There is a fellow that is very against tubs and very for the Bud Box, and he used that opportunity to criticize the tub system. I wish he would of used the opportunity to discuss the real problem in stead of focusing on his agenda to promote the box and use negative info instead of focusing on improving stockmanship as a whole.  We all have our agendas and mine is improving stockmanship.

This fall in Canada, I was with Zoetis at a place and we were processing weaned calves in a tub. I started out taking only the amount that would fit in the lead up to the chute in the tub. It worked great, just as it was supposed to.
Another person that worked it all the time went to put cattle in the tub and filled the tub up and shut the gate at the last notch. She then filled the lead up from the outside and near the entrance to the led up alley, then went to the chute to help and it made the flow at the chute much better. When the lead up was almost empty she walked back, and the fresh weaned calves went right in as they were curious to find a way out. A very safe, effective low stress way of working. I learned.

My whole point to all the examples is that it’s not the system as much as how well the cattle are prepared to work or not work, and the attitude and skill of the people creating the flow through system.

I will say that some systems make it very difficult to get the pressure where you need it when you need it.

I also think it’s important to realize that calves that have never been through a system before, if they are handled right before they get to the system, usually work very well from proper pressure and load nicely, much better than cattle that have been through before.

When I have gone to Ron Gills place and worked older cows they flow through real nice. He has a tub system that is not perfect, but the cows are always looking for a way out of pressure. The difference I see from one or two people working cattle versus a big crew is the same as numbers of animals you take up the alley. With lots of people your pressure is very broad and from to many places and you have to use force that creates panic in the cattle and they want to escape back. When it is one person you must pressure in a way to get the animals to decide to go and this creates a situation that the animal is looking for a way out rather than trying to escape back.

When I load fat cattle in a feedlot, it is usually the hardest to get them into the tub or box. Once you get the gat closed they are looking for a way out. They have learned that the pressure is going to come when they get into the tub or box, but once in they have been patterned to go up the chute alley to get out of the pressure.

So with all those examples I am trying to point out, if your livestock is not working properly even the best designed system is difficult, and if your livestock are working well, you can make even the worst system work.

So next we will start discussing my opinion on how to get cattle to work.

Going back to the first example, if your shirt tail comes untucked, you might be able to do things a little differently!

2 thoughts on “Shirt Tail Relativity

  1. Mike Orphey

    I’ve been cowboyin & ranching for myself , for going on forty years.
    I’ve found w/ experience that overloading any kind of facility is usually counterproductive. Sometimes when I was working in a set of pens the 1st time it took a draft or two to figure out what number of cattle worked best.

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