Conventional cattle yard - 200 head capacity

Good yard design

When planning and constructing stockyards, it is important to ensure that operator safety is carefully considered, e.g. it is important that the yards are designed so that the stock handler is able to easily move out of danger should the need arise (see Agfact E2.7 Self-locking cattle gate latches).

Yard features

This yard uses a conventional design with rectangular holding yards and a straight race. It incorporates a round drafting yard and curved, ‘bugle’ type forcing yards that funnel cattle very successfully into the race. It will hold and work up to 200 head. This design has been around for quite a few years and is a good compromise for those who aren’t as comfortable with the more modern curved race or fully circular yard layout.

Conventional 200 head yard design

Construction materials

Preferred materials are a combination of pipe or railway line posts with sawn timber rails. However, the choice will depend to a large degree on availability of materials and personal preference.

Posts are 75 mm galvanised or black pipe with 150 × 100 mm plate steel drilled and welded so that the rails can be bolted on. Alternatively, 250 to 300 mm timber posts may be used.

Race and forcing yard

These sections are made with 150 × 50 mm sawn timber rails. The internal width of the race should be 700 mm and no wider.

The race height should be 1350 mm and no more than l500 mm.

The posts should be a minimum of 1050 mm in the ground, concreted in and braced to the adjoining post with a threaded or welded steel bar a little below ground level.

It is advisable to be able to remove the lower rail for the full length of one side of the race in case cattle go down or get legs caught under the bottom rail. The bottom two rails in each panel can also be hinged in a gate frame to be raised in the case of cattle going down.

For husbandry procedures carried out in the race, a catwalk 460 mm high on the working side allows easy access over the top of the cattle. In this situation the top rail can be replaced by a 38 mm pipe rail or a 32 mm capping pipe rail placed directly above the top timber rail to reduce operator injury.

Care should be taken to keep all measurements of the forcing yard as specified, as changes in the angle of approach into the race may affect the flow of cattle.

The opening for worker access should be included as specified to give easy access into the forcing yard from the race working area.

Loading ramp

The loading ramp is located at the end of the race beyond the crush. The two gates linking the crush to the loading ramp should be sheeted in with either sheet metal or rubber belting to improve the flow of cattle up the ramp.

Round yard

The posts should be located to allow each gate to swing both ways for ease of drafting and to allow the filling of the round yard from the various feeder/working yards.

For greater strength the posts can be extended to 2.6 m above the ground and tied overhead with 38 mm pipe.

Holding/working yards

The outer holding yards and the curved fenceline up to the entrance of the forcing yard can be constructed of cable with a pipe capping rail. The forcing yard, round yard, adult race and calf race should be of timber or pipe construction.

The fence height of the working and holding yards can be from 1500 mm to 1680 mm high.

Siting the yard

The yard should be centrally located on the property, with good road access for trucking of stock in all weather conditions. The ideal site is a gravelly ridge with a gentle slope down to the north-east for good drainage and quick drying in wet weather.

It is important to run the race up and around the slope for smooth cattle flow, as cattle tend to baulk when running downhill. The cattle will also flow better if they are moving back towards the paddocks or holding yards from which they have just come.

Pegging out

Start by locating the fenceline a–b a distance of 21 m. The centre point c for the bottom curved fenceline is at right angles to fence a–b at a distance of 10 m from b. The posts are located along this arc at a distance of 3.1 m for a full semicircle through to point d.

The centre point e for the round yard is located along the straight line c–d a distance of 3.3 m from c. Each gate panel in the octagonal round yard is 2.5 m wide.


This Agfact was originally written by R. J. Wilton of NSW Agriculture.