It can be an often overlooked part of livestock management, but proper handling facilities are, in fact, key elements in reducing accidents in both man and beast.

As such, the Miller family – led by NFUS president, Nigel Miller – seem genuinely pleased with the performance of their Scottish-built Ritchie cattle handling system as it has yet to be defeated by any stock-handling task it has been asked to perform.

The versatile crate is moved around their 1500-acre grassland and stock farm and set up with a variety of stock pens and yards. "Our vet thinks it's terrific the way the Ritchie crate allows him to safely handle our stock – the self-locking yoke is a great advantage as the animals naturally flow into the crate, saving considerable time when we have a lot of stock to inspect," says Angus Miller, of Stagehall Farm, in the Scottish Borders.

The Miller farming family are well known Angus/Shorthorn breeders, under father Nigel Miller's direction. A 180 suckler herd provides the farm with a mix of spring/summer/autumn calves.

The Angus steers are reared and sold at the local St. Boswell's market, whilst heifers not retained are sold on for breeding. The farm has become increasingly reliant on its own ration production with 500 acres of re-seeded rotational grass being supplemented with spring barley and home grown whole crop.

The family have been using Ritchie equipment for decades, but with stock increasing in size, a larger cattle crate was needed and the Ritchie system chosen had the advantages of improved safety of operation – both to animal and stockman. The electronic weigh cell and side opening gates to floor level were specifically requested in its build.

The farm operates a commercial beef enterprise and regular weighing of its stock is seen as a management tool to monitor animal growth rates at defined stages to assess performance/feed responses.

A self-locking yoke holds the animal firmly whilst the left/right side opening crate doors enable belly clipping, stock handling and calf suckling to be easily achieved.

"Our hoof treatment man also likes the Ritchie unit as he is able to do his job with added confidence as he know he's safe," adds Angus. "All in all it's been money well spent. It's done every job we've asked of it and we know from experience it will last," he concludes.