ProWay Sheep Yards: Kerin Poll Merino, Yeoval NSW
Eleven years after its establishment in 2009, Kerin Poll Merino’s data for post-weaning weight is 53% above the Australian Merino industry-average. The stud, at Yeoval in central west NSW, is run by Nigel and Kate Kerin.
Each year, Kerin Poll Merino joins 3,000-3,500 ewes to six different sires with the best datasets for fleece weight, growth, muscling, and structural soundness.
Installation of ProWay sheep yards provides Kerin Poll Merino with a highly effective centralised hub for animal processing and data collection. Nigel believes this consistent data collection resulted in their Merinos’ outstanding growth patterns, and says: “this has allowed our clients to succeed in producing an animal with increased fertility and fast growth.”
Nigel has built his third set of ProWay yards because of how well his first two sets of ProWay yards work to help him efficiently achieve his profitability objectives. Using the latest innovations in yard design and technology facilitates multiple husbandry jobs at once.
Based on this, he said the installation of the new sheep yards was a “no-brainer” for Kerin Poll. Nigel believes for the Merino “to compete in a modern world it has to do all the things the terminal sheep breeds are doing a lot more work in data collection and to do that in ordinary yards is very time consuming.”
Since most sheep work today is done in a classing box, a sheep handler, or in an auto drafter, having good yards with easy stock flow and feed in for weighing and measuring means work in the yards is a “whole lot easier job and people aren’t hung up on doing sheep work day after day”. ProWay worked with Nigel to achieve a yard design and system for low stress sheep flow into sheep handlers, auto drafters and scanning boxes. For Nigel, his family and staff the yards have made everything “easier, more streamlined and more labour efficient”.
Nigel has experienced inefficient stockyards previously. Constructing multiple yards with ProWay, he knows first hand how custom design and innovative approaches to improve handling efficiency leads to advances in safety, efficiency and ultimately profitability for his operation.
“A key reason I like working with ProWay is that they’re continuously improving design and continuously improving products they use. There’s heaps of my ideas that have gone into these yards where they’ve actually taken my idea and made it better again.”
One of ProWay’s best innovations of late, Nigel says, is the adjustable lead-up races:
“It only takes about 30 seconds to adjust both races for width. Once you get your widths right for the animals it makes the flow into your handlers, or whatever you’re using, much easier.”
Nigel and ProWay stock yard designer Heath Cole designed the sheep yards with two work stations with double lead-up races.
“It means we’re not shifting our gear out of the road all the time. For a little extra cost, which is just the double lead-up race, we had another work station put in where we can do the pregnancy scanning, and muscle and fat scanning, without shifting everything”, says Nigel.
Installing a roof in the sheep yards helps both operators and livestock. The roof’s additional big benefit is that Nigel can work sheep on days he’s booked contractors no matter the weather. It avoids cancellations: “a lot of our contractors are hard to get. Scanning contractors for pregnancy scanning and muscle and fat scanning are doing their dates six months in advance.”
Nigel says that it’s not how big your yards are, it’s how good the design is that makes all the difference. Small things, like ProWay’s Macca Catch gate-catch solution, make gates “so easy to open and shut”, increasing efficiency.
Individually designed and drafted in AutoCAD, ProWay’s yards are ordered and prefabricated from the customised drawing to the exact millimetre. For Nigel, this is one of the key reasons he works with ProWay: “When your construction team gets on-site they’re very quick to erect. From go to whoa, you’d be surprised how quick you can have your shed and yards up.”
“The whole ProWay process was pretty streamlined. It was quite amazing how it all went together so perfectly. Perfect on paper and that’s how it went together in the construction phase.”
ProWay facilities also repays your investment more quickly than you think, Nigel says: “It might seem a big lump sum to put in the yards, sheds, earthworks, and plumbing and all that, but your pay back time’s not that long.”
“If you break down the cost over the amount of sheep you put through over their lifetime, it’s a logical investment. Once they’re built, you’ll never look back, you’ll enjoy doing stockwork every time”.