Cattle, Cattle Yards
Our new Cattle Yards are the best investment we’ve made
Written by Aimee Johnston
Cattle, Cattle Yards
Written by Aimee Johnston
Justin and Amy Dickens operate JAD Speckle Park together with their two sons at Yeoval in Central NSW. They are both passionate about the Speckle Park breed and have a successful seed stock business alongside a commercial trading operation over 1020ha of arable land.
The core priority at JAD is to constantly improve the quality of the cow herd to feature cows that are highly efficient in their role, with longevity and a low maintenance requirement. They must be structurally sound, of good temperament, and produce early maturing calves that grow fast. The focus is on the cow herd because although they’re in the business of selling bulls, they know that bulls are a by-product of the cow herd.
Justin and Amy utilise technologies such as embryo transfer (ET), artificial insemination (AI), genomic analysis and objective measurements (BREEDPLAN/EBVs) to fast-track genetic gain in each generation of JAD Speckle Park cattle, so they were spending a fair amount of time in the yards and wanted to make things easier and more time efficient.
Last year Justin and Amy installed a new set of Te Pari Cattle Yards. They had been working with the team at Te Pari for a couple of years to design the yards, get the site positioning right and fully explore all the options.
“We had seen some Te Pari yards in NZ on our travels and liked them. The way that it’s overhead braced and bolted to the concrete slab it’s very, very workable, not just for our stud operation but for our commercial operation as well.
Now we’ve got them, it’s literally made a huge difference, not to just the running of the business but to the family being able to operate safely and efficiently with the new facilities.
I see Te Pari as one of the leaders in the industry as far as technology. We also have their scale system and their auto dosing application guns which work with the crush and overall, we just looked at Te Pari as a really good company to work with.
We spend less time in the yards now with the cattle. They flow beautifully into the c-force and once they’re in there (the race) we’re on the catwalk and it’s very, very user-friendly. We can get animals in and out much, much quicker than we used to and certainly in a very good frame of mind.” Said Justin.
The cattle yards were designed to maximise cattle flow and make sorting safer and easier. The diamond transfer pens in between the lead-in pens mean Justin can easily transfer animals between pens or manually sort them before they get to the race. His Titan Hydraulic Cattle Crush has a 5-way auto drafting module so he can split mobs into 5 different groups if he wants to all by remote control or automatically by weights or any other data recorded in the scale system.
“One of the main features that swayed us towards Te Pari was the fact that all of their components, not just the panels and the gates and whatever but all through their crush is all hot dip galvanised after manufacture, so it’s galvanised inside and out and with the product being on top of a concrete slab our biggest concern was obviously rust and that was something we spent a lot of time considering. A lot of the other designs we looked at the poles are actually through the slab into the ground and concreted in and we saw that as a potential issue where if posts are full of water at ground level, then over a number of years, they could potentially rust and get weak. With the (Te Pari Yards) hot dip galvanised and bolted to the slab we just hose it out there’s no sign of rust after 12 months and I can’t see that changing really. It’s a very thick galvanising coating they put on and it’s done properly.” Said Justin.
Loading cattle on and off trucks is a lot easier now with a new dual-height loading ramp. The stepped design gives cattle a more secure footing because their hooves are on a flat surface, so they don’t slip. The catwalk up the side of the upper ramp has a handrail for safety and a man gate for easy access to get in the ramp if you need to shut stock crate doors or access animals.
“We ended up electing to go with the dual height load out which for the little bit of extra cost has been a great decision. Unloading b doubles and loading out there’s just no dropping of ramps and we get a full truck every time. They walk off and on really, really well.” Said Justin.
Justin and Amy chose a Titan Hydraulic Cattle Crush with an automatic drafting module; it has hydraulic squeeze and a vet section at the back that makes it safe and easy for vet work such as AI and ET. The crush has an integrated RFID tag reader that is connected via Bluetooth to their T30 Scale Indicator, this makes recording weights and all the other genetic traits they monitor much easier.
“The crush is the best I’ve ever worked with. To be able to use it with the remote and operate all the draft gates with the remote and the entry and race gates is a really good design. We can adjust our squeeze and catch our cattle all with a remote and it’s instant really and our kids can operate it just as well as we can, it just works extremely well.
In the rare event that we have an issue or question with the scale or one of the guns we pick the phone up and within a matter of minutes we get a phone call back if we don’t get someone directly. The after-sales stuff and the support for when you’re in the yards working are second to none, it’s very, very quick and whoever you talk to knows exactly how to solve the problem and we can get on with it.” Said Justin.
“I think today in agriculture we’ve got to be very mindful of our staff and ourselves and the safety in which we work our stock in. I think with this set of yards I’d find it hard to find a better set as far as being user-friendly and very safe. The catwalk lets you move the cattle up and down the race very very easily it’s very user-friendly for a one-person operation. It’s been the best investment money-wise we’ve ever made in our business is the new facility and we’re about to put in another set of yards at the northern end of the farm just for efficiency reasons and we’ll go with Te Pari again it’s already ordered. Yeah, it’s been a really, really good move and the only regret I’ve got is that we didn’t do it 5 years earlier.” Said Justin.