Tuesday 27 September 2016

Simply the best: the mobile sheep handling unit for all seasons

Published 10/02/2016 | 02:30

The Shepherdsmate handling unit.
The Shepherdsmate handling unit.

As sheep numbers and the workload grew on the farm, the pair set out seven years ago to find a sheep handling unit.

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It was their travels across Ireland and then England that led onto another enterprise that takes up much of their time - a compact mobile handling unit called Shepherdsmate.

"We looked around Ireland and we couldn't find anything to suit all our needs," explained George, who has an electronic and mechanics background through the firm he set up more than 25 years, GH Best Ltd. The company installs computerised ventilation and feeding systems on pig farms throughout Ireland and the UK.

"So we looked to the English market and we discovered a sheep handling unit there. We bought a unit off this company and put it in the yard as a fixed unit.

"Then in 2012 we bought the English company and started manufacturing it ourselves and converted it to make it mobile and named it Shepherdsmate."

George said they've sold a lot of Shepherdsmate units over the past year throughout Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK market is also developing. "Our customers vary from very progressive sheep farmers to part-time farmers who may not have much help and also a bad back and want to make things easier.

Recently, he said that grants available under the TAMS scheme had helped drive sales.

"Our market is really going to be the English market and we'll be expanding there," said George.

He said their mobile handling unit does all the chores that a farmer wants with the one unit - with a race, three way drafting gate, 16ft diameter forcing pen with a swing and slide gate, footbath with an anti-splash sponge, rollover system and digital weighing. "So our machine has everything," he said, adding it was light and could be easily pulled along behind a vehicle.

"Our weighing system is bluetooth and it is compatible with TGM and other software flock management systems and handheld readers," he said, with future developments such as 'auto drafting' by weight for the electronically-tagged sheep also in progress.

"We have some farmers whose land is very separated and set out in different farms and it is easy as it is mobile they can move all the equipment. It is a specialised unit which would be able to carry all the penning ," he said, adding it was 8ft long plus the drawbar when it is packed up for movement.

"With the rollover unit the sheep are standing at hand height so it is a lot easier on your back. The feature about the rollover is you can put any size of sheep in it from 25 kilos up to 100 plus."

Shepherdsmate has a base price of €2,600 with additional modules optional. See www.shepherdsmate.com or phone 049 9526327 or 087 2581385 for more information

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