Weighty devices that do all the hard work

LOOKING BACK at the television series ‘All Creatures Great & Small’ there always seemed to be a moment when the ‘veterinary’ or a farmer was in danger from a kick or swing of the head of a cow or bull. This seemed to cause some degree of mirth from those who remained injury free, while the reality to the unfortunate victim may have been far worse than it appeared on the small screen.

Farmer Edward Pantry, of Oak Tree farm Cottage, Burneston, with his hydraulic cattle crush. Pic: James Hardisty (JH1009/13a)

Putting it simply dealing with cattle can be a risky business, ask anyone who has dealt with them for years and there is always a story or two recalled with a wince.

Fortunately the cattle crush has come to the aid of cattle men, women and vets over the past 50 years and cattle crushes have progressively improved to the standard they are today whereby safety is pretty much assured while carrying out a myriad of tasks ranging from injections to clipping.

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Edward Penty of Aldborough, near Boroughbridge, recently launched his own brand-new Raging Bull squeeze crush and after attending Beef Expo at York last month and the Royal Highland Show last week, he is looking forward to this year’s Great Yorkshire Show where his latest product is one of ten new agricultural products shortlisted for a new award.

He’s very much a cattle man himself having started his own pedigree herd of Limousins at just 17 years of age; spending considerable time in the States picking up new cattle genetics, and having introduced Pearson livestock equipment to the UK from Nebraska that he has now been selling for 11 years.

Pearson products now appear under the American Squeeze Crush Systems banner but the Raging Bull is different and very much his own invention.

“Pearsons had been selling a larger model but had stopped producing it,” Edward said.

“That gave me the impetus to build a crush that can accommodate the biggest stock bull. The Raging Bull is 33 and three-quarter inches wide internally so it doesn’t matter how big a Charolais or Simmental bull you have, it will certainly go in. We’ve already sold it to three pedigree Charolais breeders and one Simmental hence the reference to those. Quite simply if you want a big crush that can handle big beasts there isn’t a lot out there.”

Being the largest cattle crush on the market wasn’t enough for Edward though. He wanted something more and he found it by listening to other cattle breeders.

“I was at the Royal Cornwall Show and a farmer came to the stand and said the trouble with crushes was that no-one had ever built one that was specifically geared up for TB testing. That set me off. I came up with one that not only has a door that opens up to TB test, the crush also has another TB test door at the back of the crush. This allows the next beast to come from the race and its head to be held in another headgate behind the tail of the animal at the front of the crush. This means you can TB test two animals at once and I have had reports that 75 per cent handling time has been saved due to this when injecting the herd.

“When you open the TB test area you are allowed access right down the neck, shoulder, kneecaps and brisket; but the really unique feature is the head restraint. It’s a powered headgate that closes behind the animal’s peripheral vision and pushes the head forward while keeping the shoulders retained in the crush. This provides a stationary part of the neck making life easier for injections. One of my purchasers calls it a neck stabiliser, which is a good description.”

But not all cattle breeders inject into the neck. Edward believes the Raging Bull can change their mind and that it is extremely versatile.

“Many farmers still jab in the top of the rump just because it is easy to jab there but the Raging Bull gives them the perfect opportunity to jab where processors would prefer them to in the more inexpensive cuts. So again it makes good business sense.

“The Raging Bull is big and strong but it’s still a squeeze crush which means it can handle everything from small calves to the largest bulls. If you’re having to test cows that are heavy in calf then it also helps rather than having to put them in a really tight crush that may potentially cause them to abort.

“Weight wise the crush is around 1,580kgs, twice the weight of the average crush on the market. Everything is fitted with pressure blow-off valves. The competition thinks I’m crackers building something so heavy but farmers like something that they know is strong, reliable and keeps them safe and I’m selling them.”