A growing trend for lamb and wool producers is incorporating low stress, stock handling systems which can handle bulk numbers of animals a time. For Richard Harkness of Tintinara, SA, this was the catalyst for a custom designed handling facility at their family property “Gumbarra Park.”
The Harkness family operate a mixed farming enterprise, cropping 4,000 acres and running 7,000 merinos alongside their “Superior Wool Merinos” stud. Investing in new sheep yards and handling equipment has a number of benefits for Richard.
“We get 18-inch rainfall and hot summers which makes working sheep challenging at times, so we’ve fixed all that with a new set of ProWay yards with a roof over the top.”
“We wanted to identify key areas in the yards so that we can do all the operations we need to without any modifications or shifting handlers or weigh crates out of the way.”
“Now we have the ability to do all of our husbandry operations in two key work stations. One is our 3-way draft which also functions as a lead up to a Peak Hill immobiliser – this can handle bung holing, A.I. and mid-side sampling of rams. Most of the other jobs go through the ProWay Bulk Handler which is used for drenching, vaccinating, back lining, mouthing and tagging.
A lot of sheep handlers require two people, the beauty with the bulk handler is, it is only a one-person job and it pretty much loads itself as they enter the handler as a group.”
Richard approached ProWay with the intention of creating multiple flow through benefits from a single bugle design. A dual working race was incorporated for classing, which can be used to feed into the bulk handler or be completely bypassed with an internal lane system.
“One lot can go through to the bulk handler while the others come up the draft or working race, so we can do multiple operations at the same time if we choose to.”
The new yards were designed to work in with the shearing shed and utilise an existing laneway and holding yard.
“The old yards were like most people’s yards, they had seen better times.”
“We’re feeding the new yards in the exact spot we entered the old yards. The difference now is we can bring woollies in and take the shorn sheep out without having to shift stock. We’ve got multiple entries or exits meaning the flexibility is far greater.”
Another advantage of the system was adding vehicle access and utilities such as electricity, water and air hoses.
“We’ve got good access coming in under the roof for a fork lift or to back in a crutching trailer. We also have power and lighting at our key workstations which drops down from the roof if we need a laptop for records or if we need to use any tools, it’s all here in the yards.”
Safety and efficiency in the yards were also a key consideration for Richard.
“We’ve got three generations working here, the safety factor is very important for not only our family members but also our employees, stock agents, dogs and the sheep themselves. With good solid yards, the livestock don’t take them on, they respect the yards and there’s no sharp edges or anything for anyone to cut themselves.
Obviously it’s a big investment, but to be able to operate every job that we do more efficiently makes it easier to justify. Plus, we knock off at the end of the day after putting a lot of sheep through and we still feel pretty fresh. There’s a big saving there and that should be the case for many years to come.”