A low stress stock handling course featuring Boyd Holden will be delivered at the innovative new sheep yards at The Vale, Temora, on November 28-29.
The course will cover livestock behaviour, stock handling technique and sheep yard design with NSW livestock handling and animal welfare consultant Boyd Holden.
It will be hosted by wool broker Marty Moses on his property, The Vale, which is the dedicated home of the MerinoLink Merino Lifetime Productivity Project trial site.
The covered yards were designed by Arrow Farmquip, finished in January and have hosted two MerinoLink field days.
Mr Moses said the vision for the yards was to play a role in industry education and showcasing the latest sheep handling technology.
The new yards have been part of a wider development program on The Vale involving fencing out tree lines, wildlife habitat areas and erosion, plus the installation of new watering points.
The Vale hosts the MerinoLink Merino Lifetime Productivity Project flock of 780 ewes and is one of five trial sites across Australia.
Covered by 30m x 30m roof, the yards have a working capacity of 1500 sheep and were built on a prepared base of road gravel.
“We rarely came out of the old yards without damaging ourselves, sheep, dogs or mental health,’’ Mr Moses said.
“We looked at how many times the yards would be used over the life of the trial and it was an easy commercial decision to make the investment.
“It’s such an exciting time to be involved in the sheep and wool industry, especially Merinos.’’
Arrow Farmquip’s corporate project manager Leigh Colledge worked with The Vale farm manager Simon Coddington on the design brief.
“The key elements were an efficient race system separate from the manual draft,’’ Mr Colledge said.
“Sheep are mustered through central laneways into the yards through a dual bugle.
“It’s important not to have the bugle too wide otherwise one person or one dog cannot move the sheep quickly and efficiently around it.
“Sheep need to be able to see where they are meant to go so if something is not working, it’s a good idea to get on your hands and knees to see what might be baulking them.
“Shadows need to be managed if a roof cannot be put over the yards.’’
Mr Colledge said bigger, wide rails were more highly visible to the sheep.
“It is a visual block and deters them from going over compared to mesh yards,’’ he said.
Mr Colledge said the gates featured UV stable and corrosion resistant neoprene bushes in the place of welded hinges.
There is also three diamond yards, an adjustable V-race, an oblique lead-in to a 180 degree curved and adjustable race set on concrete and equipped with adjustable hock bars.
Sheep then feed around the S-configuration to the auto-draft and weigh crate, for drafting either of three ways.
“When we signed the agreement on the Merino Lifetime Productivity Project, we decided a modern facility where we could showcase handling equipment to the industry was needed,’’ Mr Moses said.
“We looked at a low labour model so the flow of the sheep coming into the yards – it is basically open the gate and the sheep do the rest.
“The serpentine lead-up is the highlight for me – it takes only one person to bring sheep up as there is nothing to baulk them.’’
“The sheep love these new yards and we do too.’’