SIBI – Sheep Handler | Department of Agriculture and Food WA

We always say we’re not crop farmers that
have sheep, we’re sheep farmers that have crop. They’re integrated together and one relies
on the other, so. My name is Scott Newby I farm here just east
of Broomehill with my brother Wayne, on a family property that we’ve had for over 110 years. We’re running 1500 Marino ewes and various
terminal crossbreds and composites. We’re shearing about 3000 sheep and cropping
about 80% of the farm, about 2000 ha of crop. For back-lining ewes and drenching and
what-have-you we used to just run everything through the race. We’d draft things up manually
and run them around and through the race. Using handlers has changed the way we’ve done
big jobs like weening, where you’re doing multiple jobs at once because it cuts down on all the double-handling and going back through the race for a second or third time. We’re using this handler for drenching,
we’ll be doing vaccinating, we’re doing our back lining, hopefully we
may do some weaning in it. This handler’s a Peak Hill Immobiliser.
It’s pneumatic, electric pneumatic. So we run the sheep in, there’s a no-stop
no-return segment here. So the seeing eye trips the unit with pneumatic
actuators that clamps the sheep from both sides, you adjust the pressure for the clamp
to have it comfortable for the sheep and you’ve got a manual clamp and manual release, to
let him go again. If you’re a one-man show you can walk back
and push sheep up and you know it’s going to grab it. Whereas the mechanical one, if you’re
on your own, you can’t leave your post. The benefits we’re looking at getting out of
something like this for the business is just to not have to rely on that second labour
unit and of course in the end of the day you would like some efficiency gains and to actually
put a few dollars back in your pocket. I’m Peter Rowe, I’m an agricultural consultant
and I’ve been working in the field for over 20 years. I was asked by the Department of
Agriculture and Food to look at the Newbys’ potential investment in a sheep handler. The system that they’re looking at cost around
$17,000 dollars to buy. Across 10 years, the system will save them
around $10,000 dollars, which means that the which means that the net present value
is actually minus $6,000 dollars. The benefit cost ratio is 0.6, meaning they
spend a dollar they get $0.60 cents back. The Newbys have 1500 ewes in their flock, and
at 2500 ewes then the Newbys would breakeven, and if they increase the ewe flock up to 4000,
then the Newbys would return a $1.50 for each dollar they invest. So it’s clearly dependent on the number of
ewes that you have within your system. Things that are difficult to cost out is the
fact that you’re not fighting sheep in the in the race all day, and you can stick it out
for a bit longer. We’ve definitely noticed the difference between
day-to-day productivity of staff, myself primarily. Especially if you’re not wrestling with
heavy ewes in a race trying to give needles. We’d be quite happy to increase our sheep
numbers going forward, it’s just all based on the economics for us. We just try to use all the tools available
to us to get the best result out of our sheep flock. The Department of Agriculture and Food WA,
through its Sheep Industry Business Innovation project, made possible by Royalties for Regions,
is supporting and sharing new technologies in the sheep industry. This is improving labour efficiency in the
sector and making it easier all round, to run sheep.

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