Building a new shearing shed is an expensive proposition that requires careful planning and sound advice. Done right, the rewards are significant.
Strowan/ Wesley Dale property owners Helen and Max Cameron and farm manager Greg Sheather researched and planned for five years before selecting ProWay Livestock Equipment to design and construct their new shearing shed.
Greg Sheather said: “While there are cheaper ways to go… ProWay have built a lot of sheds and are prepared to work closely with producers to tailor a design that meets their needs. They worked with us to deliver a multi-purpose shed that ticks all our boxes: it’s labour-efficient, safe and pleasant to work in.”
Today, modern shearing sheds are designed to prioritise operator safety, low-stress handling and the crucial efficiencies needed to run a profitable wool enterprise.
A well-designed shed encompasses a range of decisions to ensure:
Working with ProWay to custom design and build the new shearing shed, Strowan/Wesley Dale’s primary objectives included:
The resulting shearing shed impresses Greg Sheather with his operation’s enhanced productivity as a result.
In their old three-stand shed, he says: “the dogs and I were flat out… we were all buggered and irritable at the end of the day. In our new shed I don’t even need the dogs to keep sheep up to five shearers and spend a bit of time on the board as well.”
Greg says that thanks to the new shed, they’re shearing twice a year. Not only does this increase the operation’s profitability, it improves his animals’ health too.
The new shed, with a cover over the shed and yards, improves productivity in an additional way, Greg says. “We can keep more than 2,500 sheep dry, which also reduces the risk of delayed shearing—a common challenge for Tasmanian producers.”
After consulting with Strowan/ Wesley Dale’s owners and farm manager, ProWay’s design for the shearing shed included ProWay’s raised Sawtooth shearing board. Workcover dubbed the Sawtooth the safest design they’ve seen: it provides shearing harness attachments, as well an emergency stop switch for each shearer within easy reach.
With the Sawtooth arrangement, shearers have a shorter drag than a conventional straight board, but most importantly the layout minimises the need to twist when dragging. Research has shown that twisting while dragging is a major cause of back and knee injury.
Each shearer has a separate work area on the platform, with a big shelf for the shearer’s tools and toolboxes. The raised design also gives wool handlers access to each shearer’s platform, without needing to bend, again improving WH&S .
The shed’s catching pens fill at a 45 degree angle, which improves the flow of sheep. While slide swing gates make penning up much more efficient and flexible.
ProWay designed the Strowan/ Wesley Dale shearing shed on three levels, to maximize the shed’s use in the property’s operations right through the year, not just at shearing times.
The shed makes staff health and comfort a priority, starting with the sheep pens’ steel-grate flooring, which is two meters off the ground. This makes for comfortable, easy cleaning underneath.
On the shed’s lower level, farm staff and shearing teams, are provided with a wet area, with a toilet and shower. There’s a sink, fridge, microwave and sandwich toaster in the staff room.
The shed’s lower-level also includes a workshop area with facilities for all staff: shearers have a separate grinding room for example. The level’s storage rooms hold the many necessities for the operation, like drenching equipment and tags.
If you’re looking to build a new shearing shed, Greg Sheather suggests you visit as many wool growing operations as you can. You should also talk to shearers about their likes and dislikes in sheds: they’re the experts on what they need.
Greg Sheather also recommends that you work with a company that works with clients to create the perfect shearing and setup for their needs. There’s a lot to consider, whether you’re working with a new custom fitout, or you’re incorporating existing yards and shed.
After all, as Greg says: “when you look around …there are plenty of shearing sheds that have been there for a hundred years. And if it’s going to be there for a hundred years it’s worth spending a bit extra to get it right.”