When Charlie Webb packed up his Back Up Charlie sheep handling system after winning the Henty Machine of the Year award he thought selling half a dozen in the first 12 months would be a great outcome.
In the four to five months since the Henty Machinery Field Days in early September the Urana mixed farmer has sold nine – and online interest is constantly growing.
“It’s been terrific really,” he said this week.
“I thought if we sold five in the first year we would be going pretty well, but I reckon we’ll sell 20.”
So far units have been sold to farmers in the NSW Northern Tablelands and Central West and as far away as South Australia.
Mr Webb – who runs 3000 Merino ewes and crops 1000 hectares with his family at their 2800ha property, “Lakeside”, Urana – said the Back Up Charlie system reduced stress on sheep, and handlers. The system consists of a forcing yard leading into a dual race.
The key to the system is the lightweight hock bars which are below the sheep’s main line of vision and do not allow the sheep to turn or back out of the race.
“Normally we’d be prodding and pushing and scratching, whatever,” Mr Webb said. “It’s calmer, it’s trying to educate people about how to treat animals. Treat them how you would like to be treated yourself.
It’s trying to educate people about how to treat animals. Treat them how you would like to be treated yourself.
“You don’t need to scream and yell or belt them over the head. You don’t need a real ferocious dog.
“Your dog needs to apply a bit of pressure to get the sheep moving but that’s it.”
He said one farmer in Euroa was able to save $3000 in labour costs by using the system during crutching by processing sheep without the need to employ extra staff.
Mr Webb has heard of operators who were able to crutch up to 100 sheep an hour with minimal extra workforce.
He was prompted by other woolgrowers and contractors to produce the system commercially, and launched it at Sheepvention at Hamilton in August, winning the livestock/wool technology invention section.