Latest innovation revolutionises sheep drafting
LAUNCHED AT THE NATIONAL FIELDAYS AND DEVELOPED WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM ROBOTIC SHEEP, GALLAGHER'S LATEST PRODUCT INNOVATION IS SET TO REVOLUTIONISE THE PROCESS OF WEIGHING AND DRAFTING SHEEP.
The Gallagher Sheep Auto Drafter is a fully automated weighing and drafting system that is smoother, quieter and easier to set up and operate than any other sheep drafting product on the market.
Peter Nation. National Sales Manager for Gallagher Animal Management Systems, says it was developed to streamline the sheep drafting process and make it easier on both operator and sheep.
"Farmers spend many hours drafting in a paddock or stockyard and a lot of them must wonder if there is a better way of doing the job. So our aim was to develop an automatic weighing and drafting system that makes sheep drafting less laborious and much more efficien!."
The result is a product that utilises composite materials and innovative rotation moulding technology to redefine the way in which animal handling equipment is constructed.
"If you look at a metal crate and the Gallagher Sheep Auto Drafter side by side it's like looking at a model T Ford versus a modern motor car."
Lightweight and portable, the new design is a hands·free integrated and automatic unit that makes drafting large numbers of sheep quicker, quieter, sa fer, more accurate and, most importantly, enjoyable.
The unit was developed with help from a world-leading animal behaviourist. A 'Robosheep' was used to test the structural integrity of the composite materials.
This process involved using a mechanical sheep to smash into the end of the Auto Drafter - simulating the activity of a real sheep crashing into the gates from two metres away. Even after 5000 continuous smashes, the 'Robosheep' caused no damage whatsoever.
Because it is much lighter than a traditional steel·built drafter, the Gallagher Sheep Auto Drafter can be quickly loaded onto the back of a ute or farm trailer and is ready to go once the air and power supply is plugged inlo the integrated controls.
Easily operated by one person, it offers the ability to draft automatically up to a maximum of five ways.
WOWING THE CROWD
Unveiling the Auto Drafter at Mystery Creek was a great publicity opportunity, Peter Nation says.
"We'd done quite a lot of work in the lead up to the big moment, so by the time the wrap came off we had a good-sized crowd and plenty of media interest."
After spending two half days on the stand talking with farmers about the new system, Nation says it's dear the Auto Drafter will have multiple applications.
"One farmer, with 30,000 ewes, said it was the kind of thing he'd love to have for doing pre-tup weights. Another farmer, who was a sheep breeder, reckoned he could make good use of it for weaning weights."
Among the most interesting visitors to the site were a husband and wife sheep breeding team who went over the Auto Drafter with a fine tooth comb, Nation says.
"They liked it because it was quiet, and they really liked the fact their stock wouldn't get banged around in it."
As for the performance of the device itself, some 'really flighty' South Suffolk lambs chosen for demonstration purposes settled into it so quickly by the time they'd gone through twice, the operator was reading the paper while the drafter did the work for him.
"And that's despite us having one lamb which jumped over the top before we started! It just shows how quiet and calm it keeps them..."
The front and rear doors to the drafter are controlled by the built-in front and rear load cells which sense the presence of an animal and open and close accordingly without the intervention of an operator.
The short distance between split-gates means smooth sheep flow and rapid capture and release at entry and exit.
Electronic animal-sensing reduces the risk of jam·ups at the gates. The sides of the unit are adjustable to suit sheep sizes ranging from young lambs to heavyweight rams.
Its smooth operation combined with automated entry and exit gates means this drafter will draft in excess of 500 animals per hour.
Another advantage of the composite material is that it eliminates the problem of electrical interference for farmers using EID tags and tag readers.
Peter Nation says the inspiration for the Sheep Auto Drafter's robust construction came from Gallagher's partnership with the innovative plastics engineer who helped develop the award-winning Gallagher electronic tag panel reader.
This unique approach means that not only is the new drafter completely robust and ready to handle even the toughest farm environment, it's also very quiet. This keeps stock calmer and the whole operation running more smoothly.
The unit's construction and design makes it very easy to clean, and the lack of steel componentry eliminates the risk of corrosion caused by weather and animal fluids.
The Gallagher Sheep Auto Drafter is used in conjunction with a suitable electronic weigh scale indicator (for example, the TSi). The basic drafter package includes EID antenna side panels, a weigh crate, integrated load cells, integrated control module with remote control unit and a Three Way Drafter Module. The auto drafter can be also customised by farmers to suit their own specific requirements. Optional extras include additional drafter units (to allow up to five way drafting) and additional remote controls, a lead·in ramp and a plug-in reader controller.
Sourced from AgriBusiness July/August 2010
01 July 2010