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Beyond the Bale : December 2012
35 ON-FARM December 2012 BEYOND THE BALE pens are slightly sloped, with the wooden grating running lengthways. The sheep naturally stand facing away from the pen doors, with their heads 'uphill'. When the shearers enter to drag a sheep out for shearing, they are already facing in the right direction and are simply tipped and dragged downhill, making the process efficient and easier on the shearer. The shed hands work one level lower on the classing and sorting floor. This means they don't have to bend down to pick up the wool. The raised board allows shed hands to lean in to collect the fleece with minimal strain on the back. The raised board also ensures that shed hands are in good position to remove any stained wool as it comes off the sheep, without interfering with the shearer. The bins are on casters and once full can be rolled over to the edge of the floor and tipped into the wool bin on the level below for baling. Sheep are loaded into the shed at the upper level and once shorn, they move down the chutes to a holding area below where they can be drenched, vaccinated, etc. Enough space There is more than the minimum required amount of distance between each shearing station, creating enough space for the shearers and shed hands to easily move around and do their jobs. The shearing platform is also wider than usual, allowing shearers to move sheep around easily if they are having any hassles, without disturbing their neighbour. It also allows enough space for fleeces to be part- skirted on the board as the shed hands are going past. Lighting Getting the lighting right took some work. Mr Aitken wanted to create a natural light to aid in wool classing. He also wanted to prevent shadows being cast when shearers were leaning over the sheep or in any way over the wool classing tables. This made the bulbs, type of lights and their placement all-important in achieving the desired effect. Airflow There are Riverina shutters along the length of the walls, and the shed is a couple of meters off the ground, which encourage airflow. Fans are located across the boards to keep the team and the sheep cool. The ceiling is also slanted, with openings in the roof ridge that allow the hot air to escape. Facilities Paraway has also invested in high quality facilities beyond the shearing shed that form an important part of the workplace environment. The shearers' huts, bathroom and kitchen facilities have been rebuilt to a high standard. Health and safety Health and safety considerations underpinned much of the shed design and elements that were incorporated in the build. In addition to the elements outlined above, this also included the height and width of the shearing board and classing tables, placement of equipment, multi- directional design of the gates in the catching pens, safety railings, warning signs, mounting points for the use of harnesses and so on. RESULTS "By creating an enjoyable work environment, you get the most out of people and as a result a better job at the end of the day," Mr Aitken says. "Our woolhandling and clip preparation is probably around 50 per cent better than what it was, and that's enormous. The feedback we get from the people buying our wool is that the clip preparation is first class." The response from shearers, shed hands and contractors has also been overwhelmingly positive. "The feedback we get is that it's a great environment to work in. If you provide good conditions for people they appreciate that you value the work they are doing. That's what it's all about." More information: The full case study and video featuring the Steam Plains shed are available at www.bestprac.info AWI's shearing shed guidelines are at www.wool.com/sheds With a horseshoe layout, the furthest distance from the board to a table is about six to eight steps. Bins on casters make for easy movement around the shearing shed. High quality facilities for the shearing team at Steam Plains.