Shan Goodwin March 18, 2016 | Queensland Country Life
It’s at the crossroads of some of the biggest cattle movements happening across the country and the Bohning Yards near Alice Springs is also where efficiency, animal welfare, worker safety and innovate training intersect.
Not only is it leading the way with state-of-the-art cattle handling gear, it’s blazing new trails in bringing the next generation of stock men and women to Territory properties.
Owned by the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association, the sale and spelling facility, on just under 60 hectares fronting the Stuart Highway, operates on a user pays basis.
It has a feed (chemical-free hay) and watering system that assists cattle to quickly recover after mustering and transport, advanced radio frequency identification scanning capacity, European Union accreditation and a weighbridge.
Now, it has two brand new, cutting edge over-and-under loading ramps, designed to ensure cattle are loaded as stress-free and efficiently as possible. Both ramps have been designed, fabricated and installed by ProWay Livestock Equipment.
The yards comfortably hold 5000 head and host specialised sales, offering stores, re-stocker and slaughter cattle. The typical size of a cattle sale is around 4000 head.
Manager Noel Cuffe, a former ringer who gives the impression there’s nothing he hasn’t seen when it comes to cattle, is passionate about the role the Bohning Yards plays in both the care of animals and people.
His team, he says, is responsible for preparing cattle for the next leg of their journey and making sure they arrive at their ultimate destination in the best possible condition.
After cattle pass through the weigh bridge, he explains, all costs move on to the purchasers.
The new loading ramps, from Proway Livestock Equipment, mean two decks of cattle can be unloaded at the same time and are very well designed, Mr Cuffe says.
“We can load trucks with just the truck driver and myself now, if necessary,” he said.
It takes 15 minutes to load to 288 head, where previously it was taking an hour to do that number.
Around 11000 head a month are put through the ramps, with road trains unloading sideways and b-doubles backing in.
“People have always come from all over the country to take a look at this facility and that is happening even more so now with the ramps,” Mr Cuffe said.
Meanwhile, the Bohning Yards have also played a prominent role in training more than 300 young indigenous men and women to go into the pastoral industry.
NTCA chief executive officer Tracey Hayes said following completion of training, participants are then placed into positions on the properties of NTCA members.
“We recruit, train, place and then mentor,” Ms Hayes said.
Everything from horsemanship and motorbike riding to fencing, welding, gate building and, of course, working with cattle is covered at the Bohning Yards.
“Young indigenous people have an incredible synergy with land,” Ms Hayes said.
“Many of the people who’ve gone through this program had grandparents who worked in the pastoral industry and were told stories about it from a young age.