In Western North Carolina, beef cattle have become one of the main agricultural commodities. On any given Monday morning, you will find local beef producers from several WNC counties gathered at the WNC livestock facility in Canton, NC, selling and buying cattle for their operations. It is important that these cattlemen either own or have access to safe and reliable equipment to properly work with their cattle. Jackson and Swain County Cooperative Extension Services once owned a small squeeze chute (a walk-in holding device that keeps cattle from moving while preforming various tasks) that they could loan out to farmers that did not have access to one on their farms. Because of the age of the equipment, the cooperative extension service decided they needed to replace their old equipment with newer, safer equipment to loan out to local farmers. Southwestern NC RC&D Council partnered with Jackson and Swain Cooperative Extension Services to obtain a $22,500 TVA Ag & Forestry grant from WNC Communities to purchase a regional cattle load-out equipment facility.
In the early stages of this project, the intent was to create a permanent covered facility in the abandoned Drexel Plant, in Whittier, NC. After the remodeling process was finished, the building was leased out to vegetable farmers who thought that the cattle may conflict with health and safety regulations. The project was then relocated to Jackson County Cooperative Extension’s building, which has secure equipment storage as well as classrooms available for training. The equipment purchased includes a new squeeze chute, head gate (a device that lets the head of the cattle through but stops at the shoulders to properly contain the animal), and kit to begin performing demonstrations of Amazing Grazing- rotational and strip grazing management to help farmers decrease hay feeding due to high costs. This equipment not only will be safer for the farmer and their cattle, but will also boost herd health by tremendous amounts. Jackson and Swain Cooperative Extension Services will now be able to host workshops and trainings to properly educate local farmers about the equipment as well as how to ensure a healthy herd. Because all the equipment is portable, it can be loaned out to farmers to use on their farms as well as be used in emergency situations, like fires, floods, and other disasters, when cattle need to be moved to a safer location. This equipment is expected to help with the efficiency and effectiveness of our regions’ small cattle operations as well as improve the profit that comes back to cattlemen.
For more information about this equipment, call Jackson County Cooperative Extension Service at (828)-586-4009.