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ACME chute helps Jackson FFA members learn best practices in animal health

When Jackson High School’s agriculture instructors were looking for cattle management equipment to provide students with practical, hands-on experience in animal health, they had a few must-have features in mind. They wanted a working chute that was safe, simple, portable and accessible.

They found all of that and more in the ACME Lariat chute from MFA.

“When I was in school, we didn’t have a good chute, and it was always a safety issue,” said Jimmy McCormack, head of the school’s Agricultural Sciences Department. “Here at Jackson, we wanted quality equipment to keep our kids safer while also being able to learn the correct methods of working cattle. We considered several different chutes, but this had everything we were looking for.”

McCormack and fellow ag teachers Sara Green and Jennifer Horn advise more than 100 FFA mem­bers in a student body of around 1,600. The school offers both agricultural and industrial technology courses and recently introduced a veterinary assis­tant program.

“Our students are getting further removed from the farm,” McCormack said. “It used to be that everybody had a few cows, and that’s not the case anymore. A lot of the kids that are in the vet program are in it because they want to work with small animals, but they also need to be exposed to working with large animals, too. Having this chute will help us develop a more well-rounded student.”

Along with its use in the classroom, the ACME chute will be available for students to borrow and for use at community events, Green said. That’s why portability was so important, she added.

“The students can take the chute to their farms and use it for their own show cattle or FFA proj­ects, and we’re also planning to take it to our local fairs, if they happen to need one,” Green said. “We want kids to be able to work their animals safely, and they can’t all afford to have chutes as nice as this one.”

New to MFA’s Farm Supply offerings, the Lariat chute is de­scribed as the “workhorse” of the ACME line of cattle manage­ment equipment. Weighing around 2,500 pounds, the Lariat is built to handle everything from sheep to cattle. Carl Bentlage, MFA Farm Supply product manager, said the chute provides top-of-the-line features without an extravagant price tag.

“We’ve been carrying the ACME brand for about a year now, and we’ve had no issues whatsoever,” Bentlage said. “The com­pany’s tagline is ‘Made for Cattlemen By Cattlemen,’ and you can see why. The Lariat chute has all the capabilities that are needed by the vast majority of farmers I talk to—including our MFA live­stock specialists and key account managers. They tell me it has everything that is needed out on the farms they visit.”

Among those sought-after features are:

  • Wide curtain-style head gate
  • Built-in nose and neck bar in head restraint
  • Parallel squeeze down to 10 inches
  • Moveable handle that can be operated from anywhere along the chute
  • Cabinet-style openings and shot doors on the side
  • Attached palpation cage
  • Slotted rear sliding door to keep cattle moving forward
  • Rump bar for both cattle and calves
  • More than 40 grease fittings for superior lubrication and longevity

The Lariat chute is designed to be stationary, but an easy-to-use transportation kit is available. The next step up in the ACME line is the Rancher unit, which is the Lariat chute with an 8-foot adjustable alley. At the top of the line is the Cattle­man, which adds an 8-foot sweep tub to the Rancher unit. The standard versions are manual, but hydraulics can be added.

“The ACME chute is made so that the beginner as well as farmers who have been working cattle for their entire life can use it,” Bentlage said. “It’s low-stress for the cattle and safe for the user. The parallel squeeze brings both sides in at the same time and same measurements. Plus, both side panels open with doors on the top two-thirds and bottom third. You can access the animal wherever you need to and work securely and safely.”

The Lariat’s unique headlock device is also a useful feature, Bentlage continued.

“It secures the head so if you’re putting on tags, deworming, vaccinating, whatever you need to do, the animal isn’t going to move, and you’re not going to get hurt,” he said.

Four Jackson FFA members christened the school’s new chute last month by working five young Holstein bull calves and three show steers on the farm of Austin Bodenstein, a Jackson High sophomore. In the chute’s first use, the students and their teach­ers said they were impressed by its flexibility and simplicity.

“I like that there are so many ways get to the calves and that one person can stand in the back and work the headgate, so you don’t scare them as they come through the squeeze,” Bodenstein said. “And the head catch is great. It kept the calves really calm while we worked them.”

Providing a less stressful experience for the cattle—and the students—is another benefit of having quality equipment for the school’s Agricultural Sciences activities, Green said.

“A lot of kids aren’t aware of how humanely farmers treat their animals,” she said. “They only see the negative images that are out there. This helps us put out a positive image of ani­mal health practices. Everyone can see that our cattle are safe. They’re not stressed. They’re content.”

ACME chutes are available exclusively at MFA locations in the cooperative’s trade territory. For more information, visit with the livestock experts at your local MFA.

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