Located south of the township of Morven in Southern NSW, Bonnie Doon Wagyu is proudly operated by Rob Wilson. The operation is gearing up for continued growth with intensive husbandry practices. ProWay were brought in to design a set of premier cattle yards for their growing Wagyu operation.
Rob is heavily focused on AI and embryo work to ensure their Wagyu herd retain high levels of growth performance and quality genetic traits. After just three years, their nucleus herd has expanded from 25 to over 250 head, with their sights set on doubling that again.
When assessing the operational requirements, Rob was certain their existing infrastructure would not facilitate efficient growth or allow safe and timely processing. With a strong focus on growing their operation with embryo transfer and AI, there was an expectation that cattle would need to be flowing through their yards nearly 365 days a year.
Designed on the principles of low-stress stock flow, with a focus on access, safety and efficiency.
Rob had previous experience working with ProWay yards and reached out to ProWay Stockyard Designer Damian Halloway to visit and measure the proposed site.
To get further understanding of their operations and requirements, Damian took Rob and the Bonnie Doon team to a nearby AI cattle breeding property featuring ProWay yards to show a similar set in action.
“Visiting similar ProWay yards in person really helps to get an understanding of the client’s requirements. What works, what’s unique about the operation.
It also helps us with RnD for the future too” says Damian.
A celebratory beer on the successful maiden yarding at Bonnie Doon.
“Having a local supplier was important to the business, it’s a reputable product, a tried and tested Australian made brand and we knew we’d get good, local after sales support.”
For Bonnie Doon, there were ideas and suggestions made to ensure the final product catered to their specific requirements, touching on the initial design process, “the orientation, site location and layout changed multiple times early on, but Damian was more than accommodating” says Rob.
“It gives you peace of mind too, having a local point of contact, you know you won’t be left in the lurch.”
A key design consideration was the cattle free working area.
“The heart of the facility is the working area, it gives us huge flexibility to work cows and calves” Said Rob.
“We’re probably more intensive than a conventional commercial breeding operation so we needed a reliable setup for year-round processing.
“There’s nothing worse than calves turning around on you, and the adjustable race lets us bring calves and weaners around with ease. We can easily adjust the width between 500 and 900mm depending on what we’re doing.”
The adjustable race offers flexibility to process any size cattle through a single working area.
From an efficiency standpoint, Rob implemented ProWay’s 3-Way Pneumatic Draft Module: “We will reduce labour units and I can safely work the cattle myself with the remote, without needing to touch the crush or swing gates. It’s a key feature.”
The Pneumatic system drafts cattle three ways with the press of a button. Rob and Damian also worked together to incorporate a new shed into the yard design which allow Rob and his staff to work all year round, regardless of the weather.
With the target set to double their stock levels through AI and ET “We needed cattle-free areas undercover and concreted so our embryo and breeding equipment are protected.”
Given the high traffic and daily usage, attention was given to maintaining the yards over time.
“We designed these yards and slab to wash them down frequently, a lot of thought has been put into drainage, with sumps and plumbing installed to run the water away from the yards, we’re looking to operate in any weather, 365 days a year. We’ve also put in running hot water which is a big benefit for sterilizing and cleaning up.”
Strategically placed walkways minimise the need to get in with the cattle in confined spaces.
“For our operation, this is our header – the new ProWay yards are an asset that will add value to this property, they’ll last us at least 50 years.”
When analysing long term productivity of their investment, Rob said, “in terms of profitability, having reduced animal stress and increased weight gain, a reduction in required labour units and time saved by being able to work more efficiently in any conditions”.
While developing the genetic traits and performance of their herd has been an ongoing focus, Bonnie Doon are preparing for long term success and view their ProWay yards as a lifelong investment.
Rob has noticed immediate results with their new ProWay facilities, “there’s no corners, stock flow nicely, you don’t have to get in with them.”
He added, “If we’re optimising animal welfare, then we’re optimising productivity. If cattle are going through these yards and aren’t stressed, then they’re going to be happier going back out on grass and putting more weight on.”
When it comes to recommending ProWay Rob is certainly an advocate of the product and service.
“I can’t fault ProWay, from the design process to the finished product it’s been excellent really. I would definitely recommend them. You know what you’re going to get. It’s a quality product that works well and will last.”