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Cow Catcher Makes Cattle Work Safer
Alvin Findlay's cow catcher provides the security and safety of having a strong cage between himself and protective mother cows during calving time.
  The Snowflake, Manitoba man and his hired man, Les Funk, built this 12 by15-ft., open-bottom cage out of 1-in. steel tubing. Findlay lifts and carries the cage on his tractor's forks, dropping it over the cow, separating her from her calf. He then gets out of the tractor, and tags the calf without having to worry that the cow will attack him.
  "There have been many instances of people getting killed or badly roughed up by cows during calving time, but that doesn't have to be the case," says Findlay, a 77-year-old who has had both his knees replaced. This puts him at a particular disadvantage, but he emphasizes that any risk is too much.
  If the calf needs to be brought to the barn to warm up, he places it in a 6 by 1 1/2-ft. tapered front carrier compartment he calls the "crib." The crib has access gates at the ends for working in either the interior or exterior of the cage.
  There's also a large swinging gate inside the cage for crowding the cow along one side. A perimeter wall gate, which is spring-loaded and self-locking, allows Findlay to release cows from the cage on foot. He says he plans to add a walk-through gate in the future.
  Once a cow is captured, she can be forced to walk in the cage as he drives along with the tractor.
  "We've used the cage for four years now, and I can't say enough good about it," Findlay says. "We calve about 250 cows and use it for pretty-near every cow that calves. We've had as many as four newborn calves in the crib at one time and up to 5 cows at once in the cage. The big thing is to catch the calf before he gets really mobile. To make it easier, the presence of my dogs make the cows not want to leave the side of their calves."
  In case the cows are elusive, he sets up "pockets" of round bales standing on end, at the start of calving season, which he uses to corner them in.
  Findlay points out that the cow cage has multiple uses, too. He uses it if he needs to move a handful of cows a short distance from one pasture to anotherÓ for example, across the road. And he also uses it to catch bulls.
  "Even if they're trying to get away from you, you just plunk it down over them as they're moving, and they're caught," he explains.
  Without getting out of his New Holland TV145 bi-directional tractor, Findlay uses his 8 1/2 by 5-ft. forks to easily pick up or release the cage. "I used to have a TV140 that worked excellent for this, but the TV145 still handles it well - although I'd like to relocate the weights from the wheel wells on the engine end, to out behind the tractor. This would better counter-balance the weight of the cage at the end of the loader forks," he muses. "The cage weighs 2,100 lbs."
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Alvin Findlay, Box 114, Snowflake, Manitoba, Canada R0G 2K0 (ph 204 876-4716).

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2005 - Volume #29, Issue #4