The technique of moving livestock through a small pen and into a working alley was widely used by cattleman long before Bud Williams began promoting its use. Thanks to Bud Williams however, this technique is now commonly referred to as a Bud Box.
For a Bud Box to function well the pen requires specific design features and the handler must be skilled at safely working the flight zone of their cattle. If these two conditions are met the Bud Box makes an excellent alternative to the standard crowding tub or cattle sweep.
Design of your Bud Box
The Bud Box is a flow through system. What this means is that for the Bud Box to work the animals should flow into, and out of the Bud Box in one fluid motion. To permit this your working alley must have an equal or larger capacity than your Bud Box.
At a minimum, the working alley should hold as many animals as you would ever bring into your Bud Box. The optimum design would include allowance for an additional one or two animals in your working alley. This would allow you to still have a couple of animals in the working alley when you bring the next group of animals into your Bud Box.
The size of your Bud Box depends on whether you will be on foot or on horseback when you are working your livestock.
- If you are on foot the box can be 12’ to 14’ wide and 18’ to 22’ long
- If you are on horseback the box can be 14’ to 16’ wide and 25’ to 30’ long.
To encourage stock to enter the box the end panel should have open rails. While the entry gate can be open railed as well, there are some benefits to sheeting or tarping the entry gate as it will make it easier for the cattle to locate the exit into the working alley.
The key design feature of a Bud Box is that the entry into the working alley is connected at 90 degrees to the latching end of the entry gate.
Proper positioning of the handler
For the Bud Box to be effective the handler must position themselves properly as they move their cattle through the Bud Box.
NOTE: Before the handler brings their livestock into the Bud Box they will ensure there is enough room in the working alley to hold all of the cattle they are bringing. it is better to bring fewer animals than too many. If you bring too many animals you will slow the flow of livestock and the Bud Box will not be effective.
- The handler will first position themselves to work the flight zone of the livestock to clamly drive their cattle into the Bud Box
- Once the animals are in the Bud Box the handler will position themselves along the exit side of the Bud Box, just ahead of the exit gate. The handler will then move slowly towards the back of the Bud box. As the handler does this, the animals, seeing that there is nowhere to go forward, will return to the entrance gate. As the animals pass by the handler they will turn in behind the handler where they will see the exit into the working alley.
NOTE: the handler should not go deeper into the Bud box than is absolutely necessary.
NOTE: the working alley design should allow the livestock to see clearly at least two animal lengths into working alley (10' to 12') before there are any bends or obstructions in the alley. This will ensure the livestock enter the working alley readily.
NOTE: Do not bring more animals forward than you can fit comfortably in the narrow working alley.
Step by Step Walkthrough
- Ensure the system is ready for your next batch of animals. Calmly work the flight zone to bring a batch of cattle into the Bud Box
- Close the sheeted gate behind you. Open the exit gate (if it is not already)
- Take a position just passed the exit gate into the narrow alley. Remain close to the exit gate and facing the far end of the Bud Box. If the livestock do not turn on their own you can move forward along the fence line. Do not move into the middle of the pen
- As the animals move passed you (the handler) they will turn to move behind you. As they move behind you they will see the exit and flow into the alley. By keeping your back close to the exit the animals will have sort themselves into a single file. This will reduce the likelihood that two animals will wedge themselves into the exit gate
- As the last animal comes in behind you, you can turn and work its flight zone to encourage it to follow its herd mates into the alley
- When the last animal enters the alley, you can close the rolling door behind it
- Open the entry gate to prepare for the next batch of animals. If you are working alone you can proceed to step Eight
- Exit through the side man-gate to continue to work the batch through the alley
- Work all of the animals through. Do not hold an animal longer than necessary to do the job as this will only add to the individual animal’s stress
- When all the animals have been worked, (or there is enough room in the working alley) return to the lead up alley to gather the next batch of animals.
The importance of continuous cattle flow
The Bud Box works best if animal movement is kept calm, continuous and fluid. Before you bring livestock into your system you should therefore inspect the entire system to ensure there are no conditions or objects in your system that will distract, stress, or potentially injure your livestock.
Next, before you bring the next batch of animals forward, you should ensure that the system is clear of animals and ready for use. Safe and efficient processing cannot happen if you are forced to hold stock in the Bud Box.
Alternatives to the Bud Box
Some ranchers do not like the idea of being in the Bud Box with the animals. If you like the idea of the Bud Box but don’t want to be in the pen with the animals you may be interested in Hi-Hog’s Return Tub. The Return Tub takes advantage of the same livestock behaviors as the Bud Box and works similarly with the one exception; that the handler does not need to be in the pen with the animals.