Set amongst the gentle hills on the outskirts of Yea, VIC, “LarnOO” spans over approximately 3,100ha of undulating pasture and native bush land delivering an exceptional environment for growing grass-fed beef for local and international markets.
LarnOO benefits from the fertile Goulburn River flats, offering HR water security, improved pastures and natural shelter forest. The property is primarily run as a backgrounding operation and currently runs a 1,300 head Black Angus breeding herd made up of approximately 350 stud cows and the balance consisting of commercial cattle with followers. Uniquely, LarnOO finish 30 – 40 bulls on farm which top up their commercial herd.
The enterprise consists of country on both sides of the Goulburn River which were previously ran as two separate farms. The eastern side of the farm had ProWay yards installed by the former owners some 20 years ago, which are still used on a weekly basis. The existing west cattle yards, were deemed unsafe and inefficient by the LarnOO team despite their large holding capacity.
For property owner Matt Vaughan, and farm manager Jarrod McKay, the decision to improve safety and efficiency across the whole operation was a key goal after acquiring the adjacent property. Significant new fencing, laneways, irrigation and pumping infrastructure has been completed, and a state-of-the-art cattle handling facility was considered necessary to improve the livestock management.
“The old west yards were very inefficient and quite dangerous really. The main reasons for building the new yards was to improve safety, animal welfare and increase efficiency. The cattle certainly walk through the yards a lot better and leave the yards a lot happier. The whole setup is much more efficient.” Said Mr McKay.
ProWay’s ability to farm visit the property, spend the time to accurately measure all the existing infrastructure was important. It was agreed on the farm what would be retained and what could be re-utilised in the new cattle yards was a key part of the decision-making process. For Jarrod who helped oversee the project, this was a crucial part of the process.
“One of the biggest challenges was trying to fit new yards in under an existing shed and infrastructure. ProWay visited the farm and were able to measure the shed, measured the heights and the existing concrete fall etc. From there they designed something that best suited our operation and specific requirements.”
For Mr Vaughan, safety of the team and livestock is paramount and the new yards offered significant benefit across the entire operation.
“We envisaged much of our A.I, pregnancy testing, calving, weaning and winter feeding operations would happen on LarnOO West, so we saw the need to build new facilities which incorporated the latest technology to provide a safe and efficient workplace.”
“We run mob sizes of around 300 head, and with the new yards we can now comfortably handle these numbers with reduced labour. More importantly the new yards make it safer for the team and as easy as possible on the livestock”
“Cattle just move through the yards smoothly, we can get them in and out quickly, and get the jobs done without any fuss or stress. We also load out of this facility and can now load or unload B-Doubles in half the time”
Another significant benefit to the facility is the raised personnel working area, an adjustable race, and air-operated gate technology to safely process cattle. For Mr McKay who had worked in the old yards, and now the new, the difference in processing cattle is “worlds apart”.
“For us, the adjustable race is fantastic. Cattle walk through really well, and we can fit around 20 cows in the race at full capacity. We’re able to easily adjust the race width, which means working cows, weaners or even smaller calves much easier.
“Stock flow is better than we anticipated. Just the way the cattle walk through the yards, once we’ve got them in the lead up yard, we don’t have to be in with them at all. We’ve got three pneumatic rotary block gates in the working race which can be operated by remote or by pushing a button on the side.”
The rotary block gates are situated at key locations around the race and allow blocking off or opening up race sections to stop cattle crowding or baulking. Other key remote features include a button operation pneumatic rotary force and four-way draft.
“The rotary force gate is a single button press to pull it around, and another to open it back up. It’s very simple to operate and means we can fill the race without having to be standing in any fixed location. It means we’re not getting in the way of stock flow as they come around into single file, which is a big benefit.”
“We’ve also got a four-way draft in front of the crush which is operated pneumatically. In terms of efficiency, with the pneumatic draft we can now reduce the labour costs, and that’s a really good advantage for us.”
For both Matt and Jarrod, it was a clear decision to work with ProWay to design and install the facility.
“We invited three companies to submit quotes for the new facilities, and we thought ProWay listened closely, and understood our needs the best. ProWay really understand how cattle instinctively want to walk and move through the yards and at the end of the day we went with ProWay because they’re a good Australian company.” said Mr Vaughan.
“Being Australian made we knew we could get good ongoing local support, and that we’d get a quality product in the end.”
ProWay prefabricated the yards at their factory headquarters in Wagga Wagga, NSW and then delivered and installed the facilities on farm.
“Proway completed the design, fabrication and installation to a high standard and they worked in with our breeding schedule. We worked out a construction schedule that had the least impact on our operations.
The end result was outstanding, and we are really happy with the final result. We are big fans of the new yards, they have added real value to LarnOO, made us more efficient, and importantly made it a safer workplace for all the team. We think the cattle like them too!” Said Mr Vaughan.
When it comes to recommending ProWay, Jarrod was also happy to sing their praises.
“Absolutely 100%, I would recommend ProWay to build a set of cattle yards any day.”