From collecting herd management data to safely keeping up with herd health protocols, a cattle crush is an essential piece of equipment for beef and dairy producers.

“Having a good cattle crush will make a big difference in a farm’s ability to optimise herd health and take the extra step in collecting performance data that will be beneficial to their management decisions,” says Edward Wise of Wise Agriculture, UK dealer of Arrowquip cattle handling equipment.

Mr Wise recommends farmers increase their quality and safety standards when making investments into a new cattle crush. Here are four things to consider when selecting the best cattle crush for the farm.


First and foremost, a cattle crush must be safe for both the people operating the equipment and the cattle they are restraining.

The Northern Farmer: Arrowquip's hydraulic squeeze crush

“This is surprisingly overlooked on a large scale – it’s not uncommon for us to speak to farmers who have lost fingers or vets who have had cattle injure them when using poorly designed cattle crushes,” says Mr Wise.

Data from the Health and Safety Executive estimate 24 per cent of livestock producers are injured each year, with 47 per cent of those injuries being due to inadequate facilities.

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To improve safety when handling cattle, Mr Wise advises farmers to look for a cattle crush that has multiple access points that allow contact with all areas of an animal while keeping it properly restrained. This should include gates that give full access to the side of the animal, with top and bottom gate sections allowing for partial side access. Also, look for front hoof and neck access and rear access.

For both handler and animal safety, opt for a squeeze cattle crush rather than a model with a fixed width. Often, cattle that are nervous in a crush will calm down when a little pressure is applied to their sides. It’s also a good way to further restrain animals to protect both them and handlers when close contact handling like physical examinations are being done.

The Northern Farmer: Arrowquip's manual squeeze crush

“Your crush squeeze needs to be on a reliable locking system and needs to be able to restrain cattle ranging in size from a small calf to a large bull,” says Mr Wise. “It also needs to be easy to operate so handlers don’t hesitate to use it.”

When researching safety features on cattle crushes, look into the manufacturer’s safety research and safety warranties.

Manual or hydraulic

For larger herds working upwards of 100 head of cattle at a time or smaller herds needing to work more efficiently, Mr Wise recommends going down the hydraulic route. While it is a bigger investment upfront, a hydraulic will speed up the flow of work, resulting in a financial return associated with time savings.

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Hydraulic cattle crushes are also a great option for farms where an operator’s physical build needs to be taken out of the equation to keep up with the flow of cattle.

When shopping around for a manual cattle crush, make sure it is easy to operate.

“It should be easy to open and close the head gate and to apply the squeeze. Accessibility gates should be easy to open and swing around without requiring the handler to handle any weight,” says Mr Wise.

Works with animal behaviour

A critical element to the safety and efficiency of a cattle crush is choosing a design that is based on animal behaviour.

“Farmers need to look beyond the basic elements of a cattle crush and look for design elements that will work with animal behaviour instead of against it,” advises Mr Wise.

This starts by selecting a crush that has been engineered for quietness to help keep both cattle and handlers calm. Look for engineering that mitigates the clang of metal on metal with nylon bushings on moving parts and nylon coatings on slam latches.

“When looking at a crush, give it a rattle test. Grab it at the side and give it a shake,” says Mr Wise. “Crushes that rattle and bang are only going to agitate cattle and give them a negative experience within the crush, which can hurt their willingness to go into it in the future.”

To also contribute to quietness and to prevent slipping, choose a cattle crush with a textured rubber floor.

Warranty and customer service

With the price increases seen throughout the machinery sector in recent years, farmers need to invest in equipment that will yield them a return for a long period of time.

“A cattle crush should be built to last on your farm for more than a decade. It should also have a manufacturer warranty to support this,” concludes Mr Wise.