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Beyond the Bale : March 2014
FAST FACTS l Equipment designed to take the hard work out of sheep handling and husbandry practices is available on the market. l The floors of the race-like machines have dividing bars that are hydraulically raised to bring the sheep to a comfortable working height. l The sheep become passive and immobilised allowing operators to perform husbandry practices with minimal strain and risk of injury. Taking the strain out of sheep handling The ProWay Sheep Bulk Handler lifts the sheep off the ground where they naturally become passive, enabling operators to perform husbandry practices with minimal strain. height of the operator. The sheep become passive as they are caught as a group, in a natural position, enabling workers to drench, vaccinate, capsule, back-line, jet and tag without having to struggle with the sheep. As with shearing, if sheep are properly held, they become submissive. Director of ProWay Livestock Equipment, Joe Hoban, says the sheep are ideally positioned and held for a majority of routine husbandry operations. "This allows for the use of less skilled operators to treat sheep while also opening husbandry practices to workers or family members who might find traditional race handling too demanding. "Ninety per cent of sheep husbandry has typically been wrestling with the sheep, not drenching or ear tagging. But with the Bulk Handler, the sheep passively sit there -- they are unable to 'tunnel' and bury their heads as they have no grounding to make use of their leg and back muscles. "Operators are also far less likely to miss recalcitrant animals, giving them the peace of mind that every sheep has received the correct dose and has had the treatment applied correctly. "Throughput levels are very high, as handling and filling times are very quick. The sheep handler can be easily used by one operator as it fills easily, and all sheep are accessible from both sides so it can also be very effectively used by two or more operators." Woolgrower Wes Polkinghorne from Berrimal, Victoria recently installed a 10 metre sheep bulk handler. "Sheep handling has become a pleasurable experience," he says. "We've had 12,000 sheep including Merino ewes, wethers, rams and newly weaned lambs passing Woolgrowing has always been a physically tough livelihood, but with an aging farming population and labour shortages, wool producers are having to look for new ways to reduce the strain of sheep work. Sheep handling and husbandry -- all necessary tasks for woolgrowers -- can be some of the most physically demanding jobs, and can be a struggle for even the most experienced and strongest of workers. With this in mind, woolgrowers might want to consider looking at equipment on the market to help them. The Sheep Bulk Handler produced by ProWay Livestock Equipment (www. proway.com.au, 1300 655 383) is an award winning system. It won the new release award at Wagin Woolorama in 2013, and 1st prize in the 2012 Sheepvention Inventions Award. The key feature of the system is a "grated floor" of the race section that can be raised hydraulically by the operator after groups of 20-30 sheep have been ushered into the race. As the dividing bars of the floor are lifted, all the sheep are suspended on their underside and raised to the waist through the handler in a three week period. The management practises performed on these sheep were back-lining, drenching, injecting, ear tagging, mouthing and classing -- all done with remarkable ease. "Sheep husbandry is no longer a chore but a pleasurable process where tasks can be performed with precision of application in a safe environment with little stress on the livestock and the operator." Another company that produces a similar race-like machine to take the strain out of handling is Holland Stocklift (www.hollandstocklift.com.au, 08 8595 7303). "SHEEP HUSBANDRY IS NO LONGER A CHORE BUT A PLEASURABLE PROCESS WHERE TASKS CAN BE PERFORMED... WITH LITTLE STRESS ON THE LIVESTOCK AND THE OPERATOR." WOOLGROWER WES POLKINGHORNE BERRIMAL, VICTORIA 34 ON-FARM March 2014 BEYOND THE BALE