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Beyond the Bale : December 2012
32 ON-FARM December 2012 BEYOND THE BALE Woolgrower Stuart Mitchell says creating a good working environment is critical to attracting and retaining shearers, and has the added benefit of improving the shearing operation. "The shearing shed on our property was built in the 1950s and while it had 'good bones', parts of it were in need of an upgrade and we could see an opportunity to make a number of improvements. "The design and layout weren't working nearly as well as they could for us. Everything was bolted down, which meant there was no flexibility to shift the configuration to meet the needs of the shearing team each season. "A good example is this year, where we had a lot of seed in the wool following a wet season. The wool handlers needed more time to work with the wool, and having everything fixed in place would have made it much more difficult." APPROACH Around 10 years ago the Mitchells started planning upgrades to the shed to bring it into the twenty first century. Having been in many a shearing shed, Mr Mitchell had a clear idea of the changes he wanted to make, which he tested with his shearing contractor and regular shearers "I think talking to the shearers beforehand was critical," he says. "While I felt I had a good understanding of what was needed and would make a difference, it's the shearers that use the shed and their input is invaluable." In planning the improvements, Mr Mitchell wanted to address the following elements in the shed's design and layout: 1. Good lighting -- This is important for shearing and critical for wool classing. 2. Work space flexibility -- Having a modular design means the layout can be adjusted to meet the changing needs of the shearing team. 3. Health and safety -- Providing a safe work environment is a necessity, but addressing health and safety considerations can also make day to day work easier on the team and help to improve the longevity of shearers' careers. 4. Equipment -- Having modern equipment in good working order helps to maximise the number of sheep shorn daily. While good airflow is essential in keeping the shed cool, this was working well and wasn't something the Mitchells needed to improve. FAST FACTS lStuart and Ba Mitchell from Bollon Queensland upgraded their shed over a period of years to help spread the costs l The Mitchells wanted to create the best working environment they could for shearers, to improve the shed's efficiency and produce a better clip. l Mr Mitchell says obtaining input from shearing contractors and regular shearers into the redevelopment was important to ensure success. Shed upgrade a 'shear delight' Stuart Mitchell outside the shed at 'Cashel Vale', Queenland. Proper lighting in the shed is especially important for wool classers.