The most important piece of equipment in your yards is your headbail. Choosing the correct headbail can make the difference between your stock handling going smoothly or not.
There are many types of headbail on the market from the large walk-thru types to smaller manual gate types. They all have their place depending on your situation.
When handling large numbers of stock a walk-thru headbail can make your job quicker as the animal can be quickly and easily released by the handle and the next one caught. The down side of these headbails is they are usually quite expensive due to their large size and if you’re not quick enough on the handle an animal can run straight through.
The smaller gate type headbail is more suited to the smaller farm, i.e. 50 or fewer animals, these headbails work well as the animal cannot run through. These are substantially cheaper than the walk-thru type, you do need to make sure you have pinned the gudgeon to stop the animal lifting it off its hinge. It is handy to have a rope on the headbail so you can operate it from behind the animal; this is good for when working by yourself or when the animal is spooked by the operator standing near the front. The downside of these headbails is you need to open the gate to let each animal out, taking a bit more time. These headbails do come in an automatic style where the yoke is tripped when the animal puts its head through. These can work well but do have complex linkage and spring systems on them prone to failure.
Whichever headbail you decide to go with remember to get one that uses round pipe on the animals neck as a square steel section can damage the animals neck, and also if you plan on ear tagging or oral drenching get a headbail with a bent or curved yoke to limit vertical head movement it will make the job so much easier.
Happy Headbail Shopping
DIY advice for lifestylers, written by Kiwi Cattle Yards owner, Euan Seymour.