Sheep, Sheep Handling

What’s the difference between a Sheep Handler and an Auto Drafter?

The difference between a Sheep Handler and an Auto Drafter?

If you just want to weigh and sort your lambs, then the Racewell Auto Drafter is a perfect solution. However, if you want the option to be able to crutch or do other tasks to your flock then a Racewell Sheep Handler will be the better option.

A Racewell Auto Drafter is dedicated to just weighing and drafting. You can’t perform any handling operations inside it. It is a weigh crate for sheep with auto drafting gates on the front. There are 2 models available 3-way auto draft or 5-way auto draft.

The key feature of the Racewell Auto Drafter is that the weigh bars are integrated into the top of the crate. This gives the machine a low entry height for the animals and the entry is separated from the weighing area – meaning that if a lamb is pushing up behind the machine it won’t affect the weight of the animal inside.

Racewell Auto Drafters can automatically read EID tags, weigh and sort sheep. These actions are programmed into the scale indicator which communicates these settings to the Racewell machine. This gives the operator the freedom to move away from the weighing and drafting area, to organise stock while maintaining control and to stop or hold an animal at the push of a button on the remote.

Take a look at what Richard Hay from Glenburn Station has to say about his Racewell Auto Drafter.


With a Racewell Auto Drafter the weighing and sorting processes are automated; resulting in less chance of error. In addition, accurate weighing and sorting ensures that all stock falls into the correct groups to ensure they achieve premium prices at sale.

This machine is ideal for lamb finishers and feedlots. Once it’s set up it requires no operator input, it is accurate and simple to use. So, if you only require weighing and drafting capability then this is the way to go.

matt mckelvie racewell hd4 2

Racewell Sheep Handlers are designed to secure stock for handling tasks such as drenching, crutching, ear tagging and mouthing etc. The handler can also weigh and draft, but it uses a clamping system to hold stock. The clamping system has an adjustable wall but can effectively hold a wide size range of animals from 30-80kg without any adjustment. If you are planning to run a mob of lambs or big rams through you can adjust the clamp width to suit the size or age of your flock.

Manually handling sheep is a physically demanding job due to their size and strength. Many producers face problems like back strain and knee injuries which impact their ability to continue doing sheep work. Racewell Sheep Handlers take the hard work out of sheep handling while allowing the farmer to quickly and easily carry out several stock management tasks at the same time and reducing the time spent in the sheep yards.

See some Racewell Sheep Handlers in action in this video!


How does the Racewell Sheep Handler work?

The sheep are guided into the handler’s lead-up race. Sometimes, they might want to go back, but they are prevented from backing up by anti-backing flaps along the side and the tapered sides help prevent them from turning around.

When the sheep enter the Racewell Sheep Handler, the optical sensors or ‘magic eyes’ trigger the catching mechanism, which is an air-operated clamp. At the same time the animal is clamped, the air-operated entry gate closes behind them, preventing the next sheep from entering. At this point, the clamped animal is weighed and can be tipped horizontally onto its side for crutching and various other procedures and inspections. For safety, the rear sensors control the entry gate and for the clamp to activate both front and rear sensors must be triggered.

After the animal has been handled and weighed, a drafting gate is opened, and the sheep is released into a predetermined pen. The entire process is done in a matter of seconds, meaning minimal stress on both the operator and animal.

racewell sheep handler vs auto drafter comparison

So what machine is best for you?

If you want to weigh and draft your sheep quietly and easily then an Auto Drafter is for you.

If you want to eliminate the back-breaking work of manual sheep handling, then the Racewell Sheep Handler is the way to go.

Contact us for more information and advice from our friendly team!


Watch this video to hear Matt explain the differences between Racewell Auto Drafters and Sheep Handlers