Sheep-handling innovations save time and stress

Tiring and time-consuming tasks such as crutching, drenching, tagging, vaccinating and mouthing ewes have become faster, safer and less stressful for sheep and handlers thanks to new equipment from ProWay in Australia and Perkinz in New Zealand.

Sheep can be ornery, and a large part of sheep husbandry is wrangling them into submission. But a smart new wave of sheep-handling equipment from Australia and New Zealand is set to make a herd of tiring, time-consuming tasks safer, speedier and less stressful for all concerned.

Take the award-winning ProWay Bulk Sheep Handler, brainchild of Joe Hoban and Troy Brose, two mates from Wagga Wagga, NSW, whose company, ProWay Livestock Equipment, designs and manufactures sheep- and cattle-yard equipment tailored for specific husbandry tasks and conditions.

The bulk handler works like this: sheep are ushered into the race section in groups of 20 to 30, depending on their size.  A grated floor is then lifted hydraulically, securing the sheep on their undersides, separated by dividing bars and held by flexible chains in a natural position so that they remain passive throughout the procedure. Hoisted to the operator’s waist height, sheep are ideally positioned for most husbandry tasks and are unable to bury their heads or ‘tunnel’.

Thanks to speedy filling times, throughput levels are high and operator fatigue is minimised, as is the need for physical strength, says Hoban. The bulk handler can be used by one or two people, with all sheep accessible from either side. And its metal flanks mean no-one need come into contact with potentially harmful chemicals.

"A lot of farmers have bad backs and bad knees. They like the bulk handler because it makes jobs such as vaccinating, drenching and mouthing ewes so much easier," Hoban says. "You're not having to get in with the sheep and wrestle them."

The handler is being further developed for dagging ewes. 

Across the Tasman, former shearing contractor Wayne Perkins designed the CrutchMaster to protect sheep from stress and nicks and save shearers time and hassle, then got local firm EB Engineers to manufacture it.

The CrutchMaster, a one- to three-stand mobile unit, requires no air, is easy to set up and operate, and is manoeuvrable and light to tow.  Its removable front grille allows it to be linked to trailers.

The unit, designed primarily for belly crutching, removes the need for bending and lifting. As with the bulk handler, sheep can be restrained quickly, easily and comfortably, enabling high throughput. Once the animal is in the CrutchMaster, flap sliders keep both flap and sheep secure on its back in a position that allows good blow placement, while easy-to-use head holders prevents tunneling.

Secured in the CrutchMaster, the sheep submits with minimal struggle to a variety of tasks, including several varieties of crutching, dagging, flanking, front socks, eye wigs and Y-cuts.

Perkinz’ range also includes a drenching unit known as the DrenchMaster and a bulk sheep handler. The equipment is available across Australia.

For more information, visit www.proway.com.au and www.perkinz.co.nz/products/crutch-master

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