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Craig & Caroline Nicholas

craig-and-caroline-nicholas-3Three things attracted Sarina stockman Craig Nicholas to ProWay yards – strength, efficiency and construction speed.

Mr Nicholas has worked with livestock all his life and been involved in several yard-building projects over that time.

When his family relocated from inland Queensland to Sarina three years ago there were many things that influenced their decision to purchase a ProWay stockyard.

“Coming from a larger cattle operation we were looking for handling facilities that offered extra efficiencies and ease of management,” he said. “Being in our 50s, my wife and I wanted a handling facility that was safe to work in and easy for cattle to move through,” he said. “The ProWay system is one of the strongest prefabricated yards I have seen and there is a lot of flexibility and versatility in the design.”

Mr Nicholas was impressed with the efficiency of the design, which eliminates dead spots where cattle movement can stall. “The components are matched to specific capacities so you can easily work out the size of yard that you require for the throughput you expect,” he said. The speed of construction also stood out for Mr Nicholas, who values the cost savings that a speedy and complete construction provides. “When you build your own yards the process is often very drawn out and it can be years before the yards are complete,” he said. “This can be very inefficient as well as frustrating. ProWay installation takes about 10 days and there is very little maintenance work required.”

The first set of ProWay yards the Nicholas’ purchased was a general purpose facility with the capacity to handle 150 breeders and their calves. “It has a four-way pound, curved race, vet crush and calf cradle,” he said. Three years later the Nicholas family has increased the number of dry trade stock it handles on another block in the Sarina area and they had no hesitation about returning to ProWay to design and build the second facility. “This stockyard has a capacity of 240 head and we have chosen to use a four way pound and curved yard like the other yards but have built in a more sophisticated crush and vet system,” he said. “We have also allowed for a calf cradle to be added later.” Both sets of yards include a fully sheeted single loading ramp with concrete floor.

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Mr Nicholas is very conscious of the responsibility stockmen have to the welfare of their livestock and the safety of all workers in the yards. “We are working with big animals and the ProWay design incorporates many safety features such as race panels that swing outwards to release an animal if it goes down and raised walkways that get the stockmen above the animals they are working on. “Man gates throughout the complex make it much easier and safer to move quickly through the complex and the rounded corners of the pipework and the circular shape reduces bruising and stress on the cattle.”

When the Nicholas’ budget for an investment such as a new set of yards, they are less interested in the initial cost than the costs over the whole life of the facility. Mr Nicholas reckons the ProWay yards will have a working life of 50 or 60 years, with minimal maintenance and very few repairs needed. “Budgeting over the whole working life soon brings the cost per year way down and it is clear that these yards are value for money,” he said.

ProWay yards designer Damien Halloway worked with the Nicholas family on both their yard design projects to create complete livestock handling facilities to meet their needs. “We custom design each project knowing that well-designed facilities enable producers to do the management practices that lead to greater profitability,” he said. “Each project is designed to suit the environment and all components work efficiently together. “This efficiency represents real time and labour savings that add to the cost effectiveness of our yarding systems.”