WISE MOVE: Smart design is at at the heart of the Atlex Stockyards operation.

WISE MOVE: Smart design is at at the heart of the Atlex Stockyards operation.

When it comes to productivity, stockyard design matters

When it comes to productivity, stockyard design matters

AgTrader National
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Ian Crafter, founder of Atlex Stockyards and its senior designer, may well have the key to a better bottom line for livestock producers.

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Story sponsored by Atlex Stockyards.

Ian Crafter, founder of Atlex Stockyards and its senior designer, may well have the key to a better bottom line for livestock producers.

According to Mr Crafter, whose Dubbo, NSW-based business was launched 36 years ago, some producers have on-farm facilities which are failing them, at least from a design perspective, and costing money.

"It comes down to getting the design right," he said, referencing the planning and installation of sheep, cattle and goat yards.

"Farmers can spend big money on a machine but not get the animals into it because it's in the wrong spot, the orientation is wrong or no psychology has been used to influence stock movement.

"When the flow is right the livestock think they're winning and getting the animal to work for you rather than you working for them is the trick and that is evident in our designs."

Atlex knows its stuff. They've designed, manufactured and constructed more than 8000 unique yards and its reputation for ingenuity, quality assurance, product delivery and service is unparalleled.

The many assorted features Atlex has developed over the years have become standard within the industry in one way, shape or form and it is the company others copy.

Atlex visits every Australian site where it might install new yards to assess the producer's needs, get the lie of the land and study any existing infrastructure.

Staff use robotic theodolites for precision and accuracy as the perfect complement to their detailed observations.

They then customise designs and incorporate existing structures such as a woolshed, trees, dips or laneways.

"No two setups are the same because no two situations are the same," Mr Crafter said.

"Any little mistake can make an enormous difference so it's essential to use the right technology and consider animal psychology when designing a yard.

RIGHT WAY: Safety is paramount for people and livestock.

RIGHT WAY: Safety is paramount for people and livestock.

"Many properties are raising productivity by purchasing safe, labour-saving yards and the majority of these are designed with two or three different work stations using a central force for ease of movement."

A pragmatic Mr Crafter acknowledges Atlex was helped on its way as an innovative operator through employee Len Hawker's astonishingly simple, yet functional Hawker Tip Swing Gate, which remains one of the smart features of their stockyards.

"Len's design was purely amazing in its simplicity and strength. It is open and that gives the sheep some level of confidence because they can see sheep ahead," Mr Crafter explained.

"At the time we chose to incorporate animal psychology attributes into our yard design instead of yards being designed by steel manufacturers with little or no understanding of working stock.

"Our experience shows that if the animal is calm it improves the pH of the meat and that's a winner for the producer.

"Our work is about keeping livestock as safe and confident as possible and (animal psychologist) Dr Temple Grandin has worked closely with us for years."

Besides, safety and efficiencies, Mr Crafter believes the agricultural sector needs to make farm work attractive if it is to build interest among younger generations.

"The farming and associated rural industries are part of the backbone of our economy along with mining," he said. "Young farmers are the future.

"If farmers continue to work in yards that do not have a functional design it will be hard work and that won't be good for older farmers and discourage younger ones."

For more information visit www.atlex.com.au

Story sponsored by Atlex Stockyards.

The story When it comes to productivity, stockyard design matters first appeared on The Land.

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