Cattle flow through a Bud Box. Illustration from Dr. Craig Payne and Michele Proctor; University of Missouri Extension
The Pennsylvania Beef Council sponsored a Stockmanship and Stewardship event in Tioga County. Guest speaker at this event was Dr. Ron Gill, Extension Beef Specialist with Texas A&M. At this event, and others like it in recent years, Dr. Gill discussed safe and effective cattle handling techniques and facilities. Some of the goals are to have cattle owners be more successful at handling cattle and to be able to safely restrain cattle for veterinary work.
One term that Dr. Gill used was 'Bud Box'. You may or may not be familiar with this term. Bud Box refers to a basic facility of rectangular shape that is used as a flow through leading to a chute or a trailer load-out area. The concept was developed by the late Bud Williams. Mr. Williams was known for his unique ability to effectively handle animals in a low stress manner. For many years he taught workshops around the country for people interested in learning his philosophies.
The Bud Box takes advantage of two natural instincts of cattle. First, when pressured, cattle typically want to return to where they came from. And second, cattle typically go around something causing them pressure (eg., people).
Cattle are brought into the box and immediately allowed to flow back out, except that a few gate changes on the entry/exit area causes the flow back out to be re-directed to a chute or load-out chute. Animals will go down the chute seeking to escape back to where they came from. Dr. Gill suggests that most cow/calf operations will need a Bud Box that is at least 12 feet wide and 20 feet deep.
Learning where to position yourself is critical in making the Bud Box concept successful. People with little cattle experience and people who tend to not be successful working cattle may fail to make the Bud Box effective. Before constructing a Bud Box make sure you understand cattle movement and handling. Standard curved chute systems and systems with solid sides may still work better for many operations.
Bud Boxes can potentially be constructed less expensively than curved, solid-sided chutes. Both types of systems are based on trying to take advantage of the animal's natural instincts. Both can be used to reach the goal of low-stress cattle handling. Dr. Gill indicated at the Stockmanship and Stewardship workshop that with proper handling, cattle can be trained to work in many kinds of handling system variations.