We plan to only have 3 cows - our milk cow and 2 beef cows. Buying expensive equipment does not make financial sense for so few cattle. New cattle handling equipment is very cost prohibitive - finding used cattle handling equipment can be just as detrimental. We had been searching for an affordable squeeze chute for months when my Dad found one for sale in our area.
A squeeze chute is a piece of equipment that safely holds the cattle still so that you can work on them - safe for the cattle and safe for you. You guide the cattle through an "alley" (a narrow corridor) into the squeeze chute. The cow puts its head through the front of the squeeze, which latches around the cows neck and a small gate drops in the back to prevent her from going forward or backward. The sides of the squeeze chute press together (or squeeze, thus the name) to steady the cow and hold her still.
Bars on the sides of the chute drop down to provide access to whichever part of the cow that you need to work on. Once you are done, either the front opens to let the cow through, or on some models like ours, the side swings open to let the cow out once you have released the head-catch.
The squeeze chute my Dad found is ancient! I have actually never even seen one built like it - the more common squeeze chutes are made by Powder River and similar knock-offs.
We do hope to one day "up-grade" to a more easily operated squeeze chute, but for now, we finally have the necessary equipment to safely handle our cattle when needed.