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Best on farm fix: Custom calf mover

Annabelle Day for Progressive Dairyman Published on 11 September 2017
Calf mover

Moving calves around the farm used to be a stressful task for Cassie Zirbel of Ledge-Rock Holsteins in Greenleaf, Wisconsin, until she decided to stop struggling with the halters and trade them in for a solution that would relieve stress on both her and her calves.

Zirbel milks 110 cows and raises all of her youngstock and bull calves, which she sells as feeder steers. For years, moving calves to and from hutches and pens around the farm was a daunting task. The solution to her problems, a custom-made calf mover, enables her to easily transport weaned calves, which usually weigh over 200 pounds.

Zirbel’s calf mover attaches to her skid loader, allowing her to park close to wherever the calves are housed. She opens the gate, puts the calf in the basket of the crate, closes it and moves them to their new location with ease.

Zirbel got the idea from someone else who was “moving cows that way in a video on Snapchat.” She quickly showed it to her friend, who owns a welding and machining business, Mastercraft Machine in Reedsville, Wisconsin.

She showed him a picture and requested a few customizations to the concept she had seen, including a way for the mover to quickly and easily attach to a skid loader, and let him design it from there.

The resulting calf mover was welded using steel with a quick-attach so it could connect to a skid loader in place of a bucket. Treated lumber was used for the floor.

Moving calves, as Zirbel describes it, used to be a dreadful chore. With her new calf mover, it has made the job easier and less stressful for both her and her calves. She also uses it to move newborn calves when needed.

According to Zirbel, anyone who could get the right parts and the steel with the ability to weld could make it themselves. “I’m sure there are a lot of farms out there that have people who could do it … if you have the talent that I don’t,” she said.

She is pleased with her new equipment, which makes everyday life on the farm easier. Zirbel did express a few minor changes: “I would probably just make mine a little bigger, but other than that, it works good.”  end mark

PHOTO: Cassie Zirbel’s custom-made calf mover allows her to transport multiple calves at once. Photo by Cassie Zirbel.

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