Cattle Crushes

Well designed Cattle Crushes protect producers and veterinariansOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Crush is the primary worksite of the producers and veterinarian on properties including feedlots. It can also be a dangerous place –  injuries from crushing, being kicked, or being knocked by fast moving bits of the crush are well documented. The Australian Cattle Veterinarians (ACV) have produces a booklet that you can download by clicking the link below.


Common hazards around crushes include:

  • Sudden unplanned movements of animals in and around the crush
  • Musculo-Skeletal disorders arising from repeated activities that involve repetitive straining. It is now recognized that whilst climbing a fence to get behind every cow to preg test it is not necessarily a problem for ten cows, it might be a problem for 100 cows, and it might even be a problem for 10 cows if it happens very regularly. “MSDs” (Musculoskeletal Disorders) are increasingly becoming a focus of worksafe organizations across the country.
  • Environmental hazards including exposure to UV light and the elements, tripping hazards, protrusions at head height, electrical hazards, and hazards due to slippery wet conditions or inadequate lighting.

There are specific OHS responsibilities placed on the designers and manufacturers of plant that may be used in a workplace. There are also responsibilities which can vary from state to state of the owner of the site, the manager of the site (typically the farmer), and all employers concerned (the farmer and the vet practice).  It is hoped that having some agreed industry standards will assist in pointing out deficiencies in individual set ups, and also to provide advice on how these might be remedied.

Literature Review

ACV commissioned one of our ex Presidents Dr. Sandi Jephcott to do a Crush Literature review of crush design and safety as the basis for this publication. which includes a review of cattle behaviour, and documents from all around the world concerning safety around the Cattle Crush.  This review found that it is not possible to come up with simple guidelines that are useful. The same crush may be quite adequate for performing a caesarian, but unsafe for pregnancy diagnosis in a large herd. A single crush design may be entirely adequate for Jersey cows but unsafe for big Brahmans or unhandled Herefords.


This document, produced from the initial literature review, and with the help of comments from many ACV members is designed to assist producers vets and crush manufacturers to identify potential hazards, to build and install safe and appropriate crushes, and to allow a risk and hazard analysis of the crush and surrounding area based on the intended use for the crush.

It is acknowledged from the outset that safety and efficiency in animal handling involves much more than good crush design: yard design generally, the animals being handled, and the handling skills of the operators are major factors but are beyond the scope of this document. Choosing a crush will involve consideration of the stock to be restrained, the procedures to be performed, staffing levels and experience, and cost.

The mini-publication describes different aspects of crush design and recommends minimum standards for many of these.

Download the Crush Design and Safety Publication