Sorting Calves with a Calf Sorting Gate

The following calf sorting method is simple, efficient, and low stress.

Sort calves easily with hi-Hog's Calf Sorting Gate

Hi-Hog's adjustable Calf Sorting Gate

This method utilizes Hi-Hog’s calf-sorting gate. Similar to ‘Dutch Doors’ this gate is split into an upper and lower gate. You can utilize the full gate all year long. When its time to sort your calves you can simply open the lower half of the gate. The gate height can be adjusted so that the bottom of the top gate section is at shoulder level for your calves. This height will vary depending on the size of your calves at the time you are sorting them. Learn more about Hi-Hog’s calf sorting gate.

In the sample corral set-up shown below, we include a sorting pen for both the cows and calves. This will make it easier to sort any calves that you may have missed sorting on the first pass. The critical part of the design is that the entrance to your Calf Pen is beside the entrance/exit alley to the Group Pen. Before beginning this process you should adjust the height of your calf sorting gate to match the shoulder height on your calves.

How to sort your calves from your calves

Sample Calf Sorting Corral Set-up

Calf Sorting Steps

A| Bring your mixed cow/calf herd into the Cow Calf Pen.

Note: If you want to optimize your efficiency you should consider preconditioning your livestock to all of the pens that will be used. The goal of preconditioning is to ensure that your livestock are familiar, and comfortable (not threatened) by the pens.

B| As you pass by the Cow Sorting Pen you can open and secure this sorting gate.

Note: For superior flow this gate should rest at an angle across the alley.

C| When you reach the Group Pen you can open the lower half of the calf sorting gate.

D| You are now ready to sort your calves from your cows. While this can be done with one person you can benefit from additional help.

E| The Sorter will stand at the main alley exit

F| If you have an additional helper, they can walk along the exit fence line, just as they would when working a Bud Box. Do not force, or drive, your livestock. They will be much easier to sort if they are moving slowly and calmly.

G| The calves tend to be influenced more by the sorter than the cows. This allows the sorter to use small slow movements that will encourage the calves to take the less threatening exit (further away from the sorter).

H| The calves are comforted by the fact that they can see and walk beside their mothers, even if it is on the other side of a fence line.

I| Do not worry if a calf gets by you. In this corral design you will have another opportunity to sort them. Just remain calm and continue to sort the remaining animals.

J| When you get near the end, avoid trying to rush the remaining animals. Use a minimum amount of pressure to get them moving. Once they are moving reward them by relieving the pressure.

K| Close the Calf Sorting Gate

L| Close the Cow Sorting Gate

M| Open the Calf Sorting Gate between the Cow Pen and the Calf Pen

N| Sort any calves you may have missed on the first pass out of the Cow Pen into the Calf Pen.

Note: If you would like you can perform the same sorting method by opening the sorting gate to the Cow Pen and following the same method to moves the cows back up to the Group Pen, while sorting the calves into the Calf Pen. 


This method was popularized by professor Joseph Stookey PhD, University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Stookey credits Dylan Biggs for the original concept.

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