Situated in the heart of Victoria, Coliban Estate runs around 7,500 adult sheep and shear 2,500-3,000 lambs per year producing super fine merino wool. For just over 100 years, Coliban Estate has been proudly run by the James family.
Manager and fine wool producer Tom James was keen to develop a new state of the art shearing shed facility with their existing shed in a state of disrepair.
“The original shed was built in the 1870s, and it’d been in the back of my mind to replace it, given its inefficiencies and OH&S hazards”.
After a fantastic innings, the historic shed finally succumbed to the elements and lost part of its roof in a storm, as a result Tom engaged ProWay Livestock Equipment to design a new shearing shed fitout for their operation.
Safety guard rails are installed as standard on the raised ProWay Sawtooth Board configurations.
“The Occupational Health & Safety aspects have been addressed. There’s a lot more room and a lot less trip hazards compared to the old shed”
Tom worked closely with ProWay Designer Joe Hoban & Construction Manager Tim Maher to achieve the optimal result for their needs. In choosing to work with ProWay, Tom added,
“ProWay seem to have terrific exposure in the marketplace, the feedback we’d received from people who’d worked with ProWay in the past was nothing but positive”.
A unique feature Tom requested was a 2.0m clearance under the grating, allowing better access for cleaning and counting out. The shed was positioned on a slope, to allow for this height to be achieved, with a retaining wall incorporated to deal with the height change.
Ventilation, natural lighting and storage also played a key part in the new sheds design, with the 30m x 18m shed giving Tom plenty of room to store wool bales, a lunchroom and wool bins, while multiple sliding doors including a 9m wide opening and shutters provide fantastic airflow in warmer months.
The fitout includes a four stand ProWay Sawtooth Raised Board, which minimises the amount of twisting and turning shearers have to do, as well as allowing for rouseabouts to work above their waist rather than bending over. ProWay also incorporated Sloped Catching Pens which dramatically reduce the drag length for shearers and the need to turn while dragging, while being less strenuous.
The Sawtooth stand also includes recessed Chutes to easily release sheep under the grating into Count Out Pens. Above the Chutes are individual storage cavities for shearers to store equipment and tools.
“When the shearer’s on the last leg of the sheep, they just roll down the chute, it’s far more efficient than the old shed was”.
A key feature Tom has included is the Fibreglass Reinforced Plastic Grating (FRP). FRP Grating is slip resistant, fire retardant and is extremely durable.
Fibreglass Reinforced Plastic Grating (FRP) has been installed as its quiet, slip resistant, fire retardant and extremely durable.
“On our floor we’ve used the FRP Grating, which I’m most impressed with. It’s quiet and it’s going to be a very low maintenance flooring for us”.
The shed fitout has been designed to ensure efficient penning up, with reduced labour required to fill catching pens.
“It’s all so well thought out, with the position of gates and sheeted panels it just helps draw the sheep through the shed, it’s a far easier task”. Slide Swing Gates were strategically positioned to ensure staff that are penning up can manoeuvre gates easily without sheep getting caught.
A key requirement for the Coliban Estate team was for the shed to be operational prior to their October shearing.
“One of the early requests I made to Joe, was that the shed needed to be ready to go for shearing in late October 2020, from the word go I was given the undertaking that that would be the case, and to ProWay’s credit, that’s the way it happened”.
ProWay worked closely with Kyneton based shed builder Central Steel to ensure a timely and professional result.
“All of the components of the shed arrived on the back of a couple of b-doubles, it’s amazing to see it all come to together”.
Tom has been impressed with the final product, both with the quality of the finish and the improved safety and animal welfare component of their build.
“In the old shed, we followed sheep around with hammers and nails, now I can pen up here and be relaxed that the sheep will be safe. The finish is first class, we had builders do the fitout of the shed that ProWay engaged, and their attention to detail was second to none”.
ProWay’s Slide Swing Gates make it far easier to pen up in the new wool shed.
Tom is a firm believer that steps taken to improve animal welfare on-farm will see good results paid forward to the end product.
“The experience I had working with ProWay was first rate, they return phone calls, they’re easy to contact, they listen to your requirements, make suggestions and they produce the goods to a point that’s well above your expectations. I couldn’t recommend them more highly”.
A brand new shearing shed fitout is large investment and undertaking. The decision to replace their existing wool shed was not made lightly for the James family, given the sentimental connection to the original building and its storied history. However, Tom and the Coliban Estate team are now reaping the benefits of an efficient, safe and profitable new wool shed.
“To quantify the return on the investment is a difficult thing, however, when you look at the lifespan you expect to get out of a shed like this on annual basis, it’s not a lot of money”.
For Tom, the state of the art, custom designed shearing shed is sure to uphold the legacy of the Coliban Estate merino operation and for the James family for many generations to come.