Cattle, Cattle Handling

Speeding up cattle work in Victoria

Written by Aimee Johnston

Speeding up cattle work in Victoria

A new set of cattle yards in Western Victoria is speeding up cattle work for Robert Abbott at Mt William Charolais.

Located at the foot of the Grampians in Western Victoria, Robert is the principal at Mt William Charolais. The team at Mt William are passionate Charolais producers who’ve been in the business since 1969 since Robert’s grandfather was involved in bringing the first shipment of semen into Australia. With ongoing labour shortages and increasing safety risks in Robert's old yards, it was a timely choice to upgrade to Te Pari Yards to make it faster, safer, and easier to work his cattle.

“We’re a mixed farming business here we’ve got hay flats, we have an annual bull and female sale which is held on the second Friday in February every year and we sell rising 2-year-old Charolais bulls and often PTIC purebred heifers as well at the sale.

I was speaking to a client who I’d sold some semen to over in New Zealand and this client had been to the property here. He’s got some Te Pari yards so he said I should speak to these fellows. So, I sent an email, and I got a call from Almanzo Blampied from Te Pari and he said let’s have a chat about your yards and that started the process. We went a number of months going back and forward and getting the designs right.” Said Robert.

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Te Pari Cattle Yards are well-proven and have been around for 20+ years in New Zealand. Made from Australian steel and fully hot-dipped galvanized after fabrication, the Yards have a superior life expectancy when compared to other alternatives.

For Robert, he needed a yard system that was safe to operate and also efficient, so working with Te Pari to design a system that fitted his needs was an obvious choice.

Robert’s Yard is packed full of features such as the S-Race with a circular forcing pen, a round drafting pen, an extra wide catwalk up the race and a cattle-free zone for a safe work area within the yards. Incorporating Te Pari’s flagship Cattle Crush, the Taurus 5-Way Auto Drafter, Robert can quite comfortably stand at the back of the race loading more cattle in while auto weighing and drafting his cattle up to 5 ways!

“We built a whole new set of yards, really state of art, we didn’t skimp on the crush, we went the top-of-the-line Taurus Auto Drafting Crush. The Yards are designed from the ground up to just basically make our life easier. Every job we’ve done in these yards since we’ve had them, I would say it’s at least cut the time in half that the jobs would normally take and some jobs that you can do in these yards you just simply wouldn’t even bother doing in our old yards, it would just be too stressful and too hard.” Said Robert.

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All Cattle Yard designs from Te Pari are designed to harness natural cattle behaviour, giving the operator maximum safety and efficiency when working alone in the yards. Since cattle have a natural tendency to circle their handler, Te Pari Yards incorporate circular pens and curved races throughout the yards which calmy draw the cattle through themselves, instead of having to push from behind, helping keep stock calm and quiet while moving through the yards.

There’s no excuse for not closing gates in the yards either. All gates in a Te Pari Yard feature a heavy-duty 25mm spring-loaded slam latch fitted with a nylon sleeve, making them simple to close shut from either side with a push of the gate, saving you time by not having to secure chains or sliding bolts. The design of the latch also makes them very quiet to use, keeping stock calm within yards.

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Many other Australian cattle yards have their steel posts concreted into the ground to secure them but Te Pari yards are bolted to a concrete pad instead. The benefit of this is that the yard panels can be moved. If you ever want to change the layout of your yards you can simply unbolt the panels and move them to where you want, new panels can be added easily too. The Te Pari system is very strong and has been well proved on both Australian & New Zealand farms for many years now. The oval steel Cattlerails are very strong and come with a 60-month Stockbend guarantee. They are also hot-dip galvanised which ensures that they have the best protection from corrosion.

“In terms of any reservations I had with building the yards on a concrete slab and then dyna bolting the panels to it my question was if I’ve got a couple of 800-900kg Charolais bulls fighting in there is the structural integrity going to be there with the yards. I think we’ve proven that it is and I spoke to a number of Charolais producers in New Zealand about the product and they had Te Pari sets of yards and they said that they’d been fantastic and to date, it’s been fantastic for us as well.” Said Robert.

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The Taurus Auto Drafter in Robert’s yards makes handling and drafting cattle easy. It was designed to help farmers reduce the amount of labour required in the yards by making it quicker and easier to weigh and draft animals. The drafting gates out the front of the crush automatically open according to the criteria you select in the scale unit – such as weight groups or any other information you have stored on the animal's EID tag. The Te Pari T30 Scale System records all the data that Robert wants and the information is automatically sent via Wifi back to the online portal so he can look at the data back in the office.

“What we did today was we bought next year's sale bulls in, which are only yearling bulls at this stage. We bought them into the yards, and we set the crush up on auto drafting mode. So, using the tablet I put in 5 different weight parameters for example 300-330kgs, 330-350kg, 350-380kg, etc and then literally we sent the cattle around the race I stood there with the remote just opening the race gate. I only had to control one gate, and then the crush basically does the rest. The animal enters the crush, the sensor realises it is in the crush and shuts the door behind it, then weighs it, selects which gate it’s got to go through, it opens that gate and lets the animal out and then the next one comes in.” said Robert.

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A pneumatic split sliding race gate is situated one animal back from the crush helps to regulate cattle flow. The remote control allows the operator to stand behind the cattle to encourage cattle forward while they open and close the race gate with the remote.

The control panel at the rear of the crush allows you to mount your weigh scale at an ideal height. A lockable cover fitted to the front of the control panel keeps the weigh scale and control units out of the weather and secured from theft. Also included in the control panel is a storage tray for your tools, tags and belongings, and a cupboard where the air regulators, EID reader control units, battery and the like are conveniently stored out of the way. The buttons control each function of the crush in addition to the remote control.

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“One of the great features of these yards is the walkway. It makes vaccinating and drenching and everything very safe and you can pass another person on it, we had 4 people operating there yesterday and we had no problem you know when someone was drenching, and someone was giving one needle in the other and we could just pass each other on the platform without having to get off or risk falling off.

The man gates are great too, they provide good access through the yards and the gate systems are great it all pins back, so you don’t get gates being damaged.” Said Robert.

Is Auto Drafting worth the investment?

With a Taurus Auto-Drafting Crush, you can process your cattle quicker and as a result, will weigh more often. With a cycle time of approx. 10 seconds per animal it is realistic to weigh 300 head per hour with very little operator intervention. If you consider the cost of labour the ROI on an Auto-Drafting Cattle Crush is very good. Plus, you will weigh more often because it is so easy to do. This helps you manage your herd better and improve your on-farm returns.

“I can process cattle on my own in here, I can take my time I can do it safely and with very little stress on the cattle. It’s like a good sheep dog you know, it’s going to save you labour units so it’s proven already to do that, and I think going forward we enjoy working in the yards now and it’s no longer a stressful experience and with these yards, someone with very little cattle experience could come in here and safely move cattle through the system and do it with ease." said Robert.

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"Every time I work in the yards I realise it was a great decision and the right decision to go with Te Pari to do it because of the way they conduct themselves and certainly the proof is in the product and going forward you know I think my bank manager said my kids will thank me for it because they’ll be the ones working in the yards here in the future and they’ll say thanks dad for giving us a good facility.

Whether it’s a small upgrade to your cattle yard or crush or whether it’s a major undertaking like we did, I’d put these guys front and centre because they’ve done a fantastic job for us and we’re really grateful for how it’s all turned out and it was a bit of a leap of faith and we put our faith in these guys and it’s paid dividends.” Said Robert.

Almanzo Blampied, Sales Coordinator for the Te Pari Australian team based in Epping, Victoria says “We are finding more and more farmers are choosing to upgrade their Cattle Yards and invest in automated equipment to make their jobs easier and safer. It’s really hard to get experienced staff now and with a system like the one at Mt William Charolais you can run mobs of cattle through the yards and draft them 5 ways with one person, so it makes it quite easy to see the return on investment.

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