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Cook family talk about managing livestock

Features the Cook family discussing the importance of safe stockyard design.

Fiona O'Sullivan: So we're here with the Cook family this afternoon at this beautiful set of yards that are at Rob and Sarah's place. But as a family unit you've been involved in this industry for a really long time, four generations I believe.

Give us a bit of a background on why you do what you do and why you've chosen to do things this way.

Rob Cook: Yeah, well, given that we've built yards next to where we pull down old yards we try to use as much of the old infrastructure as we could, which is the holding paddock and we modified the wing to bring them over to these yards obviously.

And we've put the bulk of the yards outside the line of sight for the cattle, so by the time the lead cattle are coming into the yards they've already started working their way around the wagon wheel while we're bringing the tail into the yards, so they think they're going somewhere, they can't look up and see, you know the lead blocked up in a gate so everything stops.

One of the big things we learnt as kids with dad yard building and being a cattleman himself, understanding how cattle would flow through yards and things like that is gate sizes. I remember dad's always harping on about why would you buy a pound where you're only going to let one or two animals into the pound but then have a ten foot gate to have to swing it open, you're taking up half your round yard to open the gate. You're squeezing the animals against the outside of the round yard before they come around the gate. You know it's a bigger gate, it's dangerous, it's hard for people to handle.

Whereas if you're only letting them through one or two at a time, why not have a gate to accommodate one or two head. So that was probably one of my earliest memories of why you should do things in yards. Some people don't, and good luck to them, you know, but I know working through a lot of different stations in the territory and Western Australia, you build your gate to what its purpose is, not necessarily a big gate where it doesn't need to be needed.

Brad Cook: People seem to build their yards for what they think looks pretty and what they think looks nice, but you don't build yards for yourself, you build them for your cattle and you build them so the cattle will run through them.

Every little design that may look silly from the outside is there for a reason so that cattle run freely and less stress means more weight, which is the ultimate goal.

Letty Cook: I think you've got to look at it from an animal's point of view, and not a human's point of view for sure because there's a big difference.

RUN TIME: 3 min 27 sec