March 06, 2006 — By Evelyn Boswell, MSU News Service
BOZEMAN — A new livestock handling facility that will have curved chutes, round pens and other stress-reducing innovations will be built this year at Montana State University’s Northern Agricultural Research Center near Havre, said Superintendent Gregg Carlson.
Based on the recommendations of an international expert whose autism gives her insights into handling livestock more peacefully, the facility will give producers in Montana and surrounding states an opportunity to see and evaluate modern working facilities and new technologies to benefit their operations, Carlson said.
Darrin Boss, animal science research associate at the research center, said, “It is an exciting time in the beef industry. The technology being used world wide in other industries is becoming commercially and economically available to agricultural producers. The new facility will become a showcase for producers to view and interact with advancing technology.”
The new facility at Havre is designed to be twice as large as the current one. If built as planned, it will measure about 250 feet by 100 feet. It will have continuous fences made of steel pipe instead of wood. Construction could begin about June 1 and be completed by Oct. 1. Cattle will be weighed and their ear tags read automatically as they walk through the chutes. Radio frequency technology and computers will open and close gates and send chutes in one of five directions so cattle will be funneled into the proper corral. Hydraulic gates and chutes will cut down on noise.
“It would be probably one of the most state-of-the art facilities in northern Montana,” Carlson said.
John Paterson, MSU Extension Beef Specialist, said, “It will be less stress on the animals, plus allow us to try some new technology. It will be just a great demonstration facility for producers to come out and look at new technology and see how they re-design chutes.”
The facility is in the final design stages and will go through various reviews, but funding was approved by the 2005 Montana State Legislature, Carlson said. The facility was part of the 2005 legislative action to improve deferred maintenance throughout the agricultural experiment station.