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 efficiently, your cattle 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 livestock 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. If you will have someone working the squeeze chute while someone else is bringing up the next group of animals, you can benefit from having an alley that can accommodate an additional one or two animals. 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 handling your livestock on foot, or on horseback.
- 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 Bud Box, the end panel on your Bud Box should have open rails.
While the entry gate can be open railed as well, you can benefit from sheeting or covering the entry gate with a tarp. This will make it easier for your cattle to locate the entry into your 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. One of the basic principles of low stress livestock handling is to avoid crowding your livestock.
- The handler will first position themselves to work the flight zone of the livestock to calmly drive their cattle into the Bud Box. If the alley leading into your Bud Box leads towards where your livestock wish to go, it will be much easier to move your livestock.
- 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 applies light pressure, the animals, seeing that there is nowhere to go forward, will return towards the entrance gate. As the animals pass by the handler they will turn in behind the handler so they can keep their eye on the handler. As they move behind the handler towards the point of entry 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 Walk through
- 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 open)
- Take a position just passed the exit gate into your working 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.
- 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 your working 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 the next step
- Exit through the side man-gate to continue to work the batch through your working alley (see,"How to work the flight zone")
- Work all of the animals through. Do not hold an animal longer than necessary 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.
NOTE: if you do not wish to be inside the Bud Box you can still work your livestock from the outside of the exit panel.
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.
More cattle handling resources:
- How to effectively work your cattle's flight zone
- How to sort cattle in a livestock sorting alley
- How to sort cattle with a sorting hub
- The benefits of understanding cattle behavior
- Cattle facilities design guide
- Cattle handling systems and livestock corral design service
- Sample cattle handling system designs
- Sample cattle corral plans
Additional References and Resources
- 'Bud Box' from the Bud Williams School for low stress livestock handling
Questions? Contact Hi-Hog