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Beyond the Bale : December 2012
34 ON-FARM December 2012 BEYOND THE BALE Shearing is a big undertaking at Paraway Pastoral's Steam Plains Station, located 35km north east of Conargo in NSW. The 47,000ha property runs approximately 40,000 sheep, which are shorn twice a year. When Paraway Pastoral acquired Steam Plains, the existing shearing shed was well over 110 years old and in a state of disrepair, so a decision was made to build a new shed. Magnus Aitken has been the property manager at Steam Plains for six years and he led the project from start to finish. While planning for the new shed began in 2006, the severe drought reduced sheep numbers and meant that the final design was not completed until 2010. Mr Aitken says he wanted to have a shed that was functional and efficient for shearers and for Paraway. "Attracting and retaining shearers is one of the biggest challenges facing woolgrowers and the industry," Mr Aitken says. "Shearing should be no different to any other industry and we have a responsibility to provide good working conditions, as you would expect in any workplace." SHED DESIGN Horseshoe design With so many sheep to be shorn every six months, Mr Aitken wanted to ensure that shearing could get completed in four weeks. This meant there needed to be ten shearing stations, plus an eleventh to support a left handed shearer who is part of their regular team. A horseshoe layout is efficient because it keeps the shed together, with the shearing stands surrounding the classing tables in the middle. The furthest distance from the board to a table is about six to eight steps. Utilising gravity The shed incorporates features that use gravity to the shearing team's advantage. This approach means a shed that operates on three levels. A raised board, along with the catching pens, makes up the top level. The catching FAST FACTS l Paraway Pastoral has built a new shearing shed on its Steam Plains Station, located 35km north east of Conargo in NSW, to replace the former 110 year old shed. l The company needed a shed that would support shearing 40,000 sheep every six months. l The new shed has a working environment that is safe, efficient, functional and enjoyable, which has also resulted in improved woolhandling and clip preparation. New shed developed from scratch Magnus Aitken, property manager "Steam Plains", standing in the shed built in 2010 by Paraway Pastoral. Raised boards make for easy woolhandling.