Installing Appropriate sheep handling facilities saves huge amounts of time
Sheep farming is often seen as a labour-intensive enterprise. This is certainly the case where there are inadequate or indeed no handling facilities.
Initial survey data collected by Alan Bohan of Teagasc indicates that 33pc of farmers surveyed answered no when asked if they had a handling unit for their sheep enterprise.
This sample was from farmers engaged with the STAP scheme. Teagasc survey data from more than 10 years ago indicated that farmers with inadequate handling facilities had an increased labour input to the farm of 1.25hrs/ewe/yr compared to those farmers with good handling facilities.
This type of scenario will certainly lead to increased time spent performing the most basic of task (tasks being postponed or indeed abandoned) and increased hardships for man and beast.
For a 100-ewe flock (the national average), this equates to 125 hours more per ewe or an extra 16 working days per year.
The recent TAMS scheme has offered some incentives for the purchase of mobile handling facilities, though the grant aid is not as impressive as the 40pc may appear when the VAT situation is taken into account. Regardless, investment in appropriate handling facilities is money well spent. However, the key consideration is that the handling facilities are appropriate.
When constructing a handling unit, the very basic considerations include facilities for collecting sheep, handling/treating sheep and sorting/ drafting sheep.
The inclusion of inline weighing systems and turnover crates are also attractive.