Head gates are most often the primary means for catching cattle for veterinary procedures. Whether mounted on the front of a squeeze chute or attached to posts at the front of the alley, the head gate's ease of use is probably the single most important factor in determining how effectively the cattle-handling job is executed.
There are a number of considerations to make when choosing a head gate for your working facilities. David Fillebrown with Priefert Manufacturing offers these considerations.
For greater versatility, choose head gates that do not have preset locking widths. Head gates that have preset locking widths are often too loose or too tight for the animal. The most efficient head gates have infinite, self-adjusting locking widths that achieve optimum fit regardless of the varying size of the animal.
Most of the time, manual operation is the best option when several people are around for the main herd work. Any operator should be able to catch and release more animals in less time with a manual head gate than with an automatic or self-catching model.
In all operations, there are times when an automatic head gate can come in handy. When there are one or two sick cows and no one else is around to push the cows to the chute, an automatic head gate can be a big asset. A head gate or squeeze chute that offers the operator the option to "switch" between manual and automatic definitely offers the best of both worlds.