Incorporating a low stress stock handling system which can manage large sheep numbers at a time was the catalyst for new custom designed yards at the Harkness family property, Gumburra Park.
Richard Harkness and his family operate a mixed farming enterprise at Tintinara, SA, cropping 1619 hectares and running 7000 Merinos alongside their Superior Wool Merinos stud flock.
According to Mr Harkness, investing in a new set of ProWay sheep yards with a roof over the top has had a range of benefits, particularly when handling sheep in challenging weather conditions.
Mr Harkness 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 ProWay bulk handler or be completely bypassed with an internal lane system.
“One lot can go through to the bulk handler while the other sheep come up the draft or working race, so we can perform multiple operations at the same time if needed,” he said.
It was also important to identify key areas in the yards where all the operations could be performed 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 three-way draft which also functions as a lead up to a Peak Hill immobiliser - this can handle bung holing, artificial insemination and mid-side sampling of rams.
“Most of the other jobs go through the 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.”
The new yards were designed to work in with the shearing shed and utilise an existing laneway and holding yard. The multiple entry and exit points also provide greater flexibility.
“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, but we can now bring woollies in and take the shorn sheep out without having to shift stock.”
Another advantage of the handling system was adding vehicle access and utilities such as electricity, water and air hoses.
“Now we’ve got good access coming in under the roof for a forklift or to back in a crutching trailer. We also have power and lighting at our key workstations.”
Safety and yard efficiency was also a key design consideration.
- Visit www.proway.com.au for more information on custom sheep yards.