Making hard jobs easier with a Racewell Sheep Handler
Written by Aimee Johnston
Written by Aimee Johnston
Matt Mickel and his brother Dan are partners on a sheep ranch in Central Utah, Sand Peak County. They’ve been doing it for 30 years now and they have 12 full time employees as well as sons and daughters that help out.
“I have some sons that are a little younger that are working with us since they were little and daughters as you can see over there. They all have grown up in it (the ranch), love it, understand the importance of it. We fully intend on doing this until we can’t do it anymore and hopefully as of now it looks to me like the next generation is just going to keep on going with it.” Said Matt.
Matt saw an ad for the Te Pari Sheep Handler that grabbed his attention. “We’re not getting any younger, we’re getting beat up physically, it’s very physical so then I called Kurt (from Te Pari), he’s our salesman and he was great to talk to and really explained it all and he flew out here, set it up for us and taught us how to run it. I’m not very technically – technologically advanced but this is pretty basic, it’s pretty easy to use.” Said Matt.
Matt got his Te Pari HD4 Sheep Handler set-up just in time to start shearing and he used it all through the spring shearing and then to process the sheep after shearing. The Racewell HD4 makes easy work of processing sheep by automatically catching them and giving you unobstructed access over the top of the sheep while they’re held in there. This makes it very easy for you to reach in to check teeth when you’re mouthing, easily check tags or put in tags, and check your wool if you’re a fine wool flock or reach in the back to check bags. The Handler catches sheep automatically by using optical sensors that tell the clamp wall of the handler to move when a sheep enters the machine.
“We’d bag them and cut the drys, vaccine, put on tick spray - and it went from two guys very busy, with long days during shearing to one guy sitting under a canopy with a table there with all his equipment wondering when he was going to see some more sheep because he was just caught up all the time.
We just couldn’t believe how much faster it was at the end of the day.
It just saved so much labour and he was able to do a better job because everything is right there in front of you. We’re vaccinating perfect every time and we can really study those bags and make sure we’re really getting the problem bags out, the drys out, you know perfect brands every time, not all turned because the ewes are jumping around – this machine just makes it so smooth and so easy the labour is so much easier on it and it’s so much safer.” Said Matt.
Matt is impressed with how much more efficient the Racewell Sheep Handler has made his ranch. The use of a sheep handler meant he could get through the work faster than before and with less staff. It’s taken out the very physical job of holding onto each sheep during processing and it’s easy to sheep run through the machine because of the design. Once they’re in the handler they can’t back out because of a anti-backing hook at the back of the machine.
“So when we were doing the whole process we were shearing eyes, we were tagging, we were vaccinating, mouthing probably half of them – a lot of them I know the age because of ear tags. When we had everything going good, we were doing about 3 a minute doing all that which is really fast.
You know it’s not all about a race, it’s not a race but it’s about efficiency and when we get in working, we want to get in and get it done and this has made that possible.” Said Matt.
Matt chose the Racewell HD4 Sheep Handler with trailer because he has more than one corral that he wanted to use it in. The trailer system makes the machine very mobile. The trailer has a heavy duty chassis and features a retractable drawbar, removable wheels and a fold down working platform. It has hydraulic lift to make it quick and easy to lift for removing the wheels and lowering the whole trailer to the ground to be ready for use. The sheep handler trailers come with quality suspension for travelling long distances and a handy pole for mounting your shearing plant.
“I would dare say we could close that thing up and have everything loaded up in 20 minutes if we wanted to. Then we hook it to the pick-up and we’re down the road to another corral. It’s very mobile, very well designed to be easy to handle, easy to move, easy to set-up, it’s made a hard job very, very easy for us.” Said Matt.
Racewell Sheep Handlers are designed and made in New Zealand by Te Pari Products and then distributed to farms all over the world. Te Pari offer great after sales support and service that is hard to beat. The team at Te Pari take quality very seriously and our promise to customers is simple... It works for you or we will take it back. This no nonsense, straightforward approach is what we do.
“The sheep handler was designed in New Zealand and it was designed by people that knew what they were doing its very, very good, well built.
We took some videos as we’ve been doing this and sent them to some of my good friends that I talk with on a regular basis with a similar sort of situations and ranches as ours and I’ve told them “Hey you better pay attention to this, we love it”. I’ve had several friends come look and say you gotta let me know when I can come see it. In our type of ranches what these western sheep ranches where you’re tyring to run quite a few sheep through you kind of have to come and witness it to really see the efficiency of it. You can watch the videos you can listen to me talk but if you don’t actually come and see it it’s hard to understand how really valuable it is.” Said Matt.