May 5, 2016
Time spent in the cattle yards has been slashed by one-third and gone is the headache of everyday stock work for one Western Australian family. The Thompson family replaced three sets of ageing and dangerous yards on their Gingin property, ‘Glencoe’, with a new steel set from ProWay Livestock Equipment last year, and have never looked back.
They have been able to reduce labour costs, address occupational health and safety issues and maximize stock flow to result in timely animal husbandry practices.
The Thompsons run 1200 stud flatback Droughtmaster cows on ‘Glencoe’ plus an accredited commercial herd of 7000 cows on the 207,287ha Mundabullangana station, Port Hedland. The program at Mundabullangana includes turning off commercial heifers to lot feeders at 300kg live weight and 250-300kg bulls to the live export trade. With 6000 weaners in a typical muster, weaning is a logistical operation requiring an efficient set of yards.
Co-principal Michael Thompson said with the stud focus at ‘Glencoe’, the new yards needed to have the capability of weaning up to 1200 calves, drafting up to 600 herd bulls a year and catering for an AI program involving 1200 females.
“We yard wean our calves for 14 days and it pays dividends with quiet cattle for life,’’ he said.
In the past, ‘Glencoe’ was served by three older sets of cattle yards.
“One set was dangerous to cattle and people while the other two were get-by yards,’’ Mr Thompson said.
A property management plan to upgrade capital infrastructure on ‘Glencoe’ included 200km of fencing and the new centrally located set of cattle yards.
Mr Thompson contacted ProWay and worked with design consultant Damien Halloway on the plans for the 1000 head capacity facility. ‘Glencoe’ was re-fenced into central laneways leading to the yards, which were built alongside an existing feedlot and shedding. An existing concrete loading ramp was retained in the design but the old yards were dismantled and sold. A raised base of white sand was used to encourage surface drainage during wet weather.
Mr Thompson said ProWay provided flexibility during the design process and the yards were built in an efficient and timely manner.
“We are branding and earmarking up to 1200 herd bulls, and selling 500-600 a year so drafting facilities and holding yards were important,’’ he said.
“Lane ways feed into the yards from the feedlot and 79 paddocks. There are four main holding yards and another four off the head bail.’’
Features include sliding gates, an adjustable sheeted race with release gates, a five-way auto draft module off the crush, a sheeted calf race and rotary force, a concrete base in the forcing yard and race way, steel water troughs and solar powered lighting. A four-way diamond yard offers flexibility when moving between holding yards. Spring loaded bolt catches have also been used on gates in the pressure areas as well as manways, an elevated crows nest and a raised working platform for operation of the entry gate to the pound yard increasing operator efficiency and safety.
“We put in a lot of gates to give us drafting options,’’ Mr Thompson said.
“For a job such as drafting cattle for ear marking, we can now do the same job with three people instead of five. When it comes to processing weaners, the adjustable curved race has reduced working time by 30 per cent and increased productivity by 50 per cent.”
“Overall, the pneumatic gates leading into and out of the curved race has resulted in a 100 per cent increase in productivity in drafting.’’
The yards accommodate full NLIS recording with additional data collated on live weight, pregnancy status, hair samples for DNA verification and artificial insemination.
“The yards take our business to the next level,’’ Mr Thompson said.
“They are good, safe and easy yards to work in.’’
The family has been so impressed by the ‘Glencoe’ yards, they have ordered a second set with a capacity of 5000 weaners or 3000 adult cattle at Mundabullangana.