Zen and the Art of Cattle Handling

What makes a cattle handling facility “Good”? Why is having a good cattle handling facility important? At MJE, we aim to solve problems for our clients. Cattle are big animals, and processing herds can be dangerous and stressful. Therefore, we design facilities with features specifically developed to prioritize the health & safety of both the cattle and the cattle handlers.

“Reducing stress during cattle handling is important because handling stresses can lower conception rates, suppress immune function, and raise cortisol levels. Rough handling will reduce weight gains and increase shrink. Cattle handled quietly in well-designed facilities had much lower heart rates compared to cattle handled roughly in poor facilities.”



Travel is a stressful experience for cattle. Whether arriving at the facility or preparing to depart, your cattle’s shipping and receiving needs to be smooth. Sheeted fencing provides safety for the cattle and handlers while curved, sheeted alleys encourage the cattle to follow one another which results in optimal cattle flow.

“Solid fences prevent the cattle from seeing moving people and other distractions outside the fence.”


Cattle are heavy (and often messy) animals. As they move through the loadout facility, anything protruding from the fence can be a bruise hazard for the animals. MJE constructs unique webbed fencing in our loadout facilities, reducing the chances that cattle could bump into clipped posts and experience bruising. In addition, we’ve developed a unique diamond groove pattern for high travel areas that provides traction and combats slippage for the cattle.

At a busy shipping and receiving facility, the area can become dirty quickly, so in addition to our sheeted fence, we also design and construct concrete tubs, snakes, and alleys with curves that can be sprayed down easily. In many processing barns, we take that a step further and recommend a coat of durable white paint over the concrete tubs and alleys for easy maintenance & clean-up.


Speaking of Processing Barns, MJE has discovered another aspect of maintaining calm cattle – Noise reduction.

Processing barns are large, open areas with tubs, alleys, and chutes ready to handle lots of cattle quickly. After studying experts like Temple Grandin, we’ve started designing processing facilities with the mechanical rooms outside of the area where cattle are processed. Moving loud equipment cuts down the noise that can significantly stress the cattle.

Another way to increase cattle and handler comfort is to install radiant heaters above the working chutes and other working areas. This minor feature goes a long way in the winter months when temperatures are low.

Cattle handlers have also benefited from MJE designs that include elevated concrete walkways around the snake/alleys in the processing barn. This elevated walkway is not only safer for the handlers, but it can also mean fewer handlers are needed because sightlines are less interrupted, and handlers can move quickly and efficiently throughout the facility.


Overall, MJE approaches every facility by asking ourselves two questions – what will make things “Zen” for the cattle? How can a good design make the job of the handler easier?

We walk through each step of the cattle handling process with these questions in mind. MJE facilities are designed to be hosed down easily which ensures cattle health. Concrete snakes/alleys and tubs are built to last a lifetime, significantly reduce noise, and protect the handler and cattle from harm. Sheeted fencing is used to keep cattle flowing forward without looking side-to-side for an escape. Quality beef tastes better and raising happy, healthy cattle will produce quality meat for consumers.


Feedyard managers and owners handle many different tasks on a day-to-day basis. We’ve spent years designing and building feedyards to the highest specifications that prioritize cattle health and handler comfort.

If you are interested in redesigning your existing facility, expanding your operation, or are starting with fresh ground, let the experts at MJE, LLC create the facility that’ll positively impact your bottom dollar.

MJE, LLC is booking work well into 2022 and beyond. Let’s use that lead time to design the perfect cattle facility for you – email contactus@mjellc.net or call (800)536-2634.

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