"We ONLY need a broken arm or hand caused by a cow kicking and one of these new Ritchie Calving gates will pay for itself," so says Brechin farmer, Graeme Mather.

Graeme has been trialling the new Ritchie calving suckling gate on the family's mixed farm where they are responsible for the 360 Limousin cross suckling herd.

Calving gates have been used on the farm for seven years with previous Ritchie models the past two, but the new design with its much improved safety features for cow, calf and stockperson, has provided a noticeably better health and safety advantage.

Like most dairy-suckling herds, Graeme occasionally has a difficult cow or heifer which is not keen to suckle her calf. This new Ritchie gate with its hinged lifting lower rail and adjustable head stock securely holds the cow, enabling the calf to be eased onto the cow without incurring kicking.

The cow is also held firmly in the gate pen, as the side gate is chain secured behind the cow to stop it moving backwards. With no bottom side gate bar for the cow to kick an arm down onto, the stock person can work safely to guide the calf onto the udder.

Graeme has had two calving pens converted to incorporate the new Ritchie gate, with both pens operational most days. The gate is able to swing into and away from the main pen area enabling cow management to be easily directed.

When calving difficulties have occurred, the local vet from Crofts Veterinary Centre has praised the simplicity of the gates operation and the safety it provides.

The removal of the higher side bar with the cow secured, has even allowed a caesarean operation to be carried out on a standing cow. Cleansing after birth and trimming are two tasks that can also be safely completed.

- Technical specification includes - dimensions of 3200mm long x 1950mm high; weight of 110kg; adjustable width head yoke which is operated manually or by pull rope; fold-up lower section of gate to allow complete access for calf or stockperson and can fold up to avoid uneven floor/straw; removable horizontal rail (second from top) allowing generous access to side of cow; all hot dipped galvanized finish.