Located approximately 112 miles (180km) north of Austin TX, USA, in the rural town of Hamilton, “Yocham Ranch” has undertaken significant infrastructure upgrades to their dorper breeding and feedlot enterprise. The recent installation of a state-of-the-art sheep handling facility is the first of its kind on American soil.
Ranch owner and manager Yale Yocham was diligent in his research to find a solution specific to their operation. While the property had access to sheep corrals, it lacked handling capacity and was too labour intensive to weigh, treat and sort (draft) their 1,300 dorper ewes.
“We had an existing set of sheep yards, but trying to run 1,000 sheep in them, they just weren’t working or capable of handling the numbers. They would have been fine for a hobby farmer, but for the serious producer we needed something that worked.”
It was through searching online for a solution that Yale discovered ProWay.
“I’d seen the videos of the setups ProWay has built and I knew it was what I needed. You can see the quality and their ability to design something that suited what we were doing was what appealed to me. I was impressed seeing how the yards worked and the bulk handler looked like a great solution for handling dorpers.”
According to Yale, there was no comparative solution available in the US to the product range and design expertise offered by ProWay.
“Locally, you can’t find builders or manufacturers that offer the technology, yard design and construction expertise that ProWay has.”
Yale contacted ProWay in 2017 to enquire about doing something in the US. The rancher worked closely with ProWay stock yard designer Troy Brose to design their facilities.
“Working with ProWay was easy. We organised times to sit down and go over things online. We were able to share screens and map out exactly where it was going to be built.”
In what was a milestone for the company, ProWay were able to customise a set of yards specifically suited to the operation and co-ordinate the shipping and construction of the first American constructed facility.
Once the design had been finalised, the yards were manufactured at ProWay’s workshop in Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia. The prefabricated facility was loaded into a 40-foot container and shipped directly to the Yocham Ranch some 8,700 miles (1,400kms) away.
Upon the equipment and components arriving on site, the yards were erected under a purpose built roof. ProWay arranged an experienced yard builder to oversee the construction which consisted of marking out and digging approximately 115 post holes, concreting the yards in place and pouring a 2,000 square foot (185m2) concrete slab in the working area. The entire process – from an empty shed to fully functioning yards – took about 10 days to complete.
The yards would enable Yocham Ranch to significantly increase production and reduce manual processes. While it was a considerable project to undertake, Yale found the process simple and very worthwhile.
“The whole process couldn’t have been smoother, and we’re very happy with the quality of the product.”
Since the installation of the yards, Yale could not be happier with what they’re delivering for his livestock operation. He can now run up to 4,000 ewes with significantly reduced handling times.
“We can now drench more than 900 ewes in a matter of hours. Previously that amount would have taken us two full days working sunrise to sunset. The bulk handler makes handling sheep so much easier and more enjoyable,”
“Our facilities make us much more efficient. The ability to track weights for selling, administer vaccines and the general flow of the sheep saves us time when handling and penning. For us, the labour-saving is the real home run,”
“I’m confident we’ll get at least 40 years out of this set of yards. I can’t see any reason why they won’t last at least the rest of my life.”
Not only has Yocham Ranch increased livestock productivity and efficiency they have also become somewhat of a talking point across central Texas.
“The yards are gaining a lot of attention here, anyone who sees them are impressed.”
When dealing with the question, Yale doesn’t hesitate to encourage others to talk with ProWay about designing stock handling infrastructure.
“If you’re thinking about new facilities, I absolutely recommend ProWay to anybody looking to build something like we’ve got. It’s awesome, it really is.”