A group of Australian farmers and professional shearers have successfully developed an automated sheep cradle to “eliminate the catch and drag”.
They claim that their product, called the Automatic Shearing Delivery Race, results in fewer shearing injuries and greater productivity levels.
According to the designers, sheep come up the race and into a cradle. Then this detaches and brings the sheep to the stand with the touch of a button before tipping them back into position for the shearer.
In summary, the easy-to-transport product delivers the sheep to the shearer and automatically tips it into position.
Automated sheep cradle
Glenn Haynes from Shearer Woolhandler Training in South Australia said:
“The older guys who are leaving the industry will all tell you it is not the shearing process that is hurting them; it is dragging them out of the pen,” he said.
Shannon Warnest, who has experience shearing in eighteen different countries on various types of shearing trailers, explained:
“We have crutching trailers now, and we really need something to deliver sheep to the shearer.”
“Some of the biggest injuries we have are sustained in the catching pen.”
“We have had some 70 and 80kg ewes through the trial, and they are not going away. I think it is going well.”
“I think that for younger people entering the industry, it would be a lot easier for them to get going. Tipping a sheep over is one of the hardest jobs.”
“If we can minimise that and have them there, then it will be great for the industry. Hopefully, it may even bring some of the older shearers back into as well,” he added.
Glenn Haynes, SCAA Shearer Woolhandler Training Inc, executive officer, said: “We can drop sheep where we want them now at the push of a button. If we can reduce 75% of injuries which are caused by catch and drag in our industry, it has got to be a great thing.”
The designers claim that the process will take, on average, 10-12 seconds per sheep at a normal pace.
The product is expected to range from what is the equivalent in our currency as just over €16,000 to €22,500 (depending on features, etc).