Dr. Temple Grandin – a woman with autism who bonded with cows – has done ground-breaking work in the field of cattle handling. Based on her research and design, cattle are now being treated far more humanely when put through a cattle tub to kill parasites. Consequently, fewer drown in the tubs and there is less bruising. Cattle like to follow each other but balk if they see a dead end. By using circular construction you can minimize the stress for the animals when it is time to put them through the tub and vaccinate them.
Read Dr. Temple Grandin’s work and see the film about her life and contribution to contemporary cattle tubs. Her research will give you a better understanding into how cattle think, and this will help you better design your cattle tub.
Start with a plan. Like any construction project, draw up a blueprint of the dimensions of the tub. This also helps calculate the cost of the needed lumber and cement.
Build and excavate a single-file chute, at least 20 feet long, with the backhoe and shovel. Make it round so that the cattle can’t see light at the end when they will approach the tub. Make sure there is nothing hanging in the chute that could blow in the wind and frighten the cattle.
Continue excavating the area. The tub should be wide enough – at least 5 to 6 feet -- so that the biggest of the cattle can comfortably get through. It should be about 6 to 8 feet long to make sure all the parasites perish when the cattle swim through the tub.
Build a concrete ramp or steps going down into -- and coming out of -- the tub. Cattle panic if the ground suddenly disappears from under their feet, but with a decline where they have a solid footing, the animals stay calm and will quietly swim through the tub.
Construct the wooden forms for the concrete tub according to your plan. Pour the cement to make the tub. Let the concrete dry.
Make another single file chute at the end of the tub. Once the animal emerges from the tub, it will continue walking into the handling area where it can then be vaccinated and tagged.
If you don’t want a permanent tub, buy or rent a fiberglass tub to use. The important thing is to dig it into the ground and to build a ramp or steps for the cattle.