The ability to track genetics and individual animal performance has accelerated growth rates and maximized profitability at historic Mt Schanck Estate.
New custom designed cattle and sheep yards built at Mt Schanck within the past two years have enabled a comprehensive data collection program to be instigated. This has resulted in the identification of elite performance prime lamb and beef genetics. Staff regularly work up to 7000 sheep or 1300 cattle a day through the two new sets of ProWay yards.
Set in a 700mm rainfall zone, the 3319ha Mt Schanck is owned by the Evans family and runs an enterprise mix of catbtle, prime lambs, potato and dryland cropping at Mt Gambier, South Australia. The 2800 Border Leicester-Merino cross and maternal composite ewe flock produces 24-26kg carcass weight lambs for the trade. The new yards replaced an ageing set of timber yards adjoining the historic limestone Mt Schanck woolshed.
Dating back to 1875, it was built to accommodate 32 blade shearers and hold 1500 sheep under cover. The new 2500 head capacity yards have two entry points into the work area or the shearing shed.
Incorporating the existing count out pens, the yards feature a 13m-long double working race with guillotine and tumble swing gates, and two four-way draft diamond yards. A 0.6m wide adjustable V drafting race leads to an air-operated three-way auto drafter. The 8m permanent loading ramp has a walkway safety bar and winch. Mt Schanck livestock manager Nathan Reid said the new design maximised labour efficiency.
“At any one time there is two of us in the yards, and we can push through 300-350 sheep an hour through the three-way ProWay drafting race and weigh box,” Mr Reid said.
“The bugle force means we have minimal issues with ewes and lambs turning around.” The weigh box is fitted with a Tru Test XR3000 for data collection.
“We weigh the ewes every six weeks to maintain body score condition while lambs are weighed every three to six weeks, depending on turn-off,” Mr Reid said. “Rams are brought through the yards pre and post joining, drenching and shearing.”
Four holding pens and a loading laneway service a wide, adjustable loading ramp.
“It is now pleasurable and stress free working stock in these yards,” Mr Reid said.
Mt Schanck runs a 2200 Angus and Hereford cow herd, turning off steers over-the-hook at 550kg liveweight or 17-18 months of age to the supermarket trade. The beef enterprise had outgrown an old set of portable yards near the homestead. Constructed on a greenfield site in 2012, the covered yards were built on an all-weather limestone base with patterned concrete in the forcing laneways.
Designed for low stress cattle handling, the yards feature a dual laneway, two rotary forces and three pneumatically-operated rotary block gates, a curved V race with overhead rail provides operator safety, improved stock flow and ease of operation. Three four-way diamond yards offer flexibility when moving between yards. A ProWay independent weigh box fitted with a Tru Test XRP EID reader leads to a five-way pneumatic auto-drafter. All gates are fitted with spring release latches and all yards have watering points. The 12 degree permanent loading ramp has a level extension and passenger side walkway.
“From the walkway, we can draft cattle off into the loading ramp there is good B-double access,” Mr Reid said.
“The main receiving yard has entry points for each set of gates so we can get in or out in a number of ways. If we are pushing big numbers through, cattle can be held in smaller pens off to the side.”
Mr Reid said the air-operated backing gate and crush was ideal for the station’s artificial insemination program of 1000 heifers.
“The cattle flow so well from down the back through the curved V race to the backing gate, we don’t have to push them.”
Mr Reid said the yards were able to handle 1100 females during pregnancy testing over a five hour period.
“The ProWay cattle yards have allowed us to process large numbers in a fast and efficient time frame with less stress on the animal,” he said.
“The full NLIS recording enables us to monitor weights from weaning until the time the animal leaves the property. Data collected includes liveweight, days since weighed, daily weight gain, pregnancy status, health treatments and pedigree. We can then track genetics and individual animal performance to accelerate growth rates, turn animals off faster and maximise profitability.”