ProWay Sheepyards and our 12m ‘Bulkie’ have boosted operational efficiencies for Roxburgh New Zealand brothers – Cameron & Angus McNeish.
New sheepyards boost efficiency for Roxburgh duo
For brothers Cameron and Angus McNeish, new sheepyards and handling equipment have made a significant difference in terms of labour efficiency and long-term maintenance.
Set on 6,000 hectares of hill country on the edge of the Roxburgh Hydro Dam, the McNeish families run 7,000 self-replacing Halfbred ewes and 200 cows on a mix of permanent and improved pastures.
“We average around 500mm rainfall and generally drill 300ha of improved pastures annually.” Said Cameron. “Of that we cut around 100ha of lucerne for silage”.
The grazing enterprise is co-managed by the two McNeish families. For Cameron it’s a balance of breeding and finishing.
“We finish the majority of our lambs before winter, with only a handful kept through to spring for slaughter. Cattle are kept to rising two-year old’s with some sold to slaughter. The rest are sold as stores before their second winter.”
“In terms of our sheep handling infrastructure, the yards were really in need of major repairs and constant maintenance.”
Cameron and Angus co-manage the livestock husbandry were looking to improve the efficiency of the operation.
The McNeish brothers opted to replace their existing timber yards due to their constant maintenance and upkeep.
“We were at a bit of a crossroads with the old yards. They we mostly timber and in need of constant maintenance so we figured we were best to do the job once and do it right.”
The catalyst for a modern facility was during a trip to the 2020 Southern Field Days.
Not long after, COVID 19 presented it’s challenges, halting physical meetings on site. However, with the help of technology the design process continued by distance.
“Working with ProWay’s yard designer Troy Brose was straight forward and we had good communication with him throughout the process.
Given he was based in Australia we used a combination of WhatsApp and email to go through ideas and could have Zoom meetings to go through any design updates. It was all pretty easy really.”
“We had an existing shearing shed and footbath which we wanted to incorporate, and Troy factored these into the design.”
The ProWay 12m Bulkie is the centrepiece of the McNeish yards.
“Working with ProWay’s yard designer Troy Brose was straight forward and we had good communication with him throughout the process.”
Once the design was finalised, ProWay appointed a South Island based surveyor to peg out the hole locations. Following this the brothers erected the prefabricated facility.
“The yards all turned up on a truck in late 2020 and Angus and I tackled the construction.”
“The challenge for us was the hole digging, which we may have underestimated. We were dealing with a sloping site on hard rock so had our work cut out for us. There were over 150 holes, and ended up purchasing a new rock auger bit, which we wore out drilling with the 13-tonne digger we hired.”
“There were over 150 holes, and ended up purchasing a new rock auger bit, which we wore out drilling with the 13-tonne digger we hired.”
The ProWay yard components and equipment were shipped across the Tasman and supplied as individual panels, gates, and parts. Once on site, the majority of the equipment bolted together with some light fabrication required. Each post was secured with a concrete footing.
“Angus and I had some construction experience and he’s a bit of a perfectionist, so we did our best to work in with the incline to step the fence lines evenly.”
150+ holes later, all components were shipped across the Tasman prefabricated, ready for install on site.
With the yards now operational the McNeish brothers haven’t looked back.
“Stock flow has really improved for us and I find we’re not having to walk as much in the yards, particularly in the working area.
We’ve recently had a jetter setup in front of the draft and both sheep and lambs are running really well.”
“With the bugle design, you’re working on the inside of the sheep, so they just keep coming around you versus walking up and down a straight race.
But the biggest labour saver is the Bulk Handler.”
The ProWay Bulk Handler fits around 30-40 sheep and lifts them as a bulk group to a comfortable working height.
Sheep work in the clouds!
“Given the numbers we’re putting through, we opted to go with a 12m unit. I have to say we were initially a bit sceptical of how much we’d use it, but it’s easily the best thing we’ve put in.”
“There’s no comparison to the ProWay Bulk Handler when it comes to drenching and inoculating sheep which we would have previously done in a traditional race.”
“Now it’s actually enjoyable to do these kinds of jobs and you walk away feeling fine, even on a 30-degree day. We’re able to do multiple husbandry operations at a time and work either side so it’s made things a lot easier for us.”
For Cameron, the whole experience has been worthwhile, and the pair are both impressed with the end result.
“I’d be happy to recommend ProWay for stock yards and particularly the Bulk Handler. They were easy to deal with and we’ve got a facility that has made sheep work much easier and will last for many years to come.”