“Nearly six years after they were installed the metal Cattlemaster yards designed built and installed by Te Pari Products from Oamaru are as good as the day they were first used” says the twenty year veteran of Canterbury Grasslands Neil McAndrew.
Chris and Faye Port previous owners of the 2500 acre property that borders more than two kilometres of the northern bank of the Rakaia River used to run around 25,000 merinos on the dry land farm. That was until dairying in central Canterbury and access to water made the inevitable change occur. The Ports sold their extensive sheep and beef farm to a group of investors who have since converted it into seven dairy farms adding to the property a couple of neighbouring blocks that together run over 7000 dairy cows.
Neil describes himself as the “general handyman around the place fixing fences, planting new grass, brassica crops and harvesting baleage and hay as well as most of the animal health requirements for the combined dairy herds, that are handled in the yards”. Questioning him a little more shows both his deep love for the farm and the area in general. “Fishing Hunting Skiing Boating and of course it’s Canterbury” he says as his reasons for the love of the area. Canterbury I ask? “Well no matter if it’s the bitterly cold wind that funnels through the nearby Rakaia Gorge or the biting hot dry Nor’ Wester these yards cop them. Yet for all that they’re a great place to work which is just as well as I spent all of April and May in them” he says with a grin.
The SY150 Te Pari Cattlemaster yards set up for 150 cows with a Cattlemaster crush and a loading race, were put in to do all the work we need to with the cows. “Over the years they have been used for TB testing, drafting, drenching, tagging, loading cattle in and out and of course weighing in the crush.They handle it easily and it really makes my job a pleasure. They are used by all the farms on the property and seldom a week goes by without some stock in them. I do little or no maintenance and have never had anything break or seize up. There’s no warping and the gates are always easy to open and close shut solidly with these slam catches. If you want to have them held open the sliding rail locks them firmly and they don’t blow in the wind. These yards are brilliant they flow well and you can easily see what’s going on.”
They were originally designed for the Beef market. How do you find using them in the Dairy industry I venture? “Well there’s no difference, we just work them harder”, he says pointing to the extra wooden holding yards that surround them. “More often than not we have 500 cows or R1’s and R2s here and there’s never a problem they just do what they’re designed for and they’re easy to work in! It’s important to us is that they are easy to access from all over the farm so we sited them just about centrally and that we can get stock in and out quickly. So the yards themselves can’t be a bottleneck, we’ve just too much work for them to either break down or slow us down!”
“I guess that if there was a bit of shelter over the crush so that it kept out the summer sun and a bit of rain it would be better as it’s hard to record tag numbers on wet paper! Maybe if the crush was mounted a bit higher off the ground we wouldn’t have to clean out the mud as often, but really there’s nothing that needs changing even after all this time. It’s a good design and it works for us”
“Cows, Bulls, Calves, Dairy or Beef these yards are safe, easy to use and maintenance free. They will outlast any wooden yards and there’s no climbing rails all the time as you can work from the central area through the personnel gates with ease. They get the job done what else can I say!”