An ultra-modern shearing shed recently built on a NSW station will open to the public next week.
Stuart Le Lievre from Yathonga Station at Tilpa, who farms with wife Gabbie, will open the doors to the six-stand shed.
The new shed is inspired by the work done in Australian Wool Innovation's Shearing Shed Design project and was built by a Mildura firm and fitted out by Jason McGaw from Dubbo.
The Yathonga open day is one of a series sponsored by AWI in recent years to demonstrate what upgrades are now possible for growers looking to upgrade.
Two open days have been held at Dubbo and a third was recently held in WA where 320 producers visited Geoff Bilney's shed.
Stuart and Gabie Le Lievre will welcome visitors on Wednesday, April 14 from noon to 3pm.
Yathonga Station is located on Darling River Rd East (eastern side of Darling River Louth to Tilpa), Louth NSW 2840 which is 54km from Louth toward Tilpa and 14km from Tilpa towards Louth.
For catering and COVID-19 requirements all must RSVP to register for the day through www.wool.com/events.
Senior AWI staff will also outline the latest in wool research, development and marketing.
The Le Lievres have already used the new shed and the set of yards that go with it.
"Over the last couple of years, there's been a lot of talk about liability, workers' safety, injuries and longevity in the shearing industry, and our old shed was just a disaster waiting to happen," Mr Le Lievre said.
"[We realised] whatever we put up had to tick a few boxes in relation to that and when we got the [AWI project] explained to us, we found that this particular design covered those big ticket areas."
He said the biggest improvement was the efficiency of the shed.
"Our shearers have gone from probably 900 a day in the old shed to at least 1050 and to say they were cruising was probably an understatement," he said.
"They appreciated that at the end of the day they weren't just bent over and buckled, it was just really efficient."
Also, the shed staff weren't "tripping over themselves".
"The shed was clean and our wool preparation was really good because of that," he said.
"You put all of those things together and you've got a really efficient, cost effective method of shearing."
He said this efficiency improved the conditions for the sheep too.
"As far as stock husbandry goes, I'm a firm believer in the less time you've got your stock in the yards, the better off they are," he said.
"They're better off out in the paddocks doing what they do best."
Mr Le Lievre said the new shed offered a safe environment.
If other wool growers were considering upgrading their sheds or building new ones, his advice was to do your homework.
"Don't go in with any preconceived ideas," he said.
"We can't continue to operate like we have for the last hundred years, it just doesn't work like that anymore.
"There's no such thing as a perfect shed or a perfect set of yards, but we can do a whole lot more by designing something that is a lot more worker and stock friendly."
AWI's program manager for woolgrower services, Henry Ridge, said the Le Lievre's new shearing shed is based on the AWI shed design project which gave experienced shed staff, shearers and woolgrowers the opportunity to address key areas for design using their vast knowledge and experience.
The AWI shed design through the review of existing sheds and prototyping designs took an overall approach with the flow of sheep, people and wool being vital, as well as the considerations into worker safety, animal welfare and the quality of wool preparation.
"Whether looking to build a new or improve an existing shed there is plenty of design features in the Yathonga shearing shed that will be of interest to woolgrowers", Mr Ridge said.
Key features in this design include: an almost straight drag to the workstation (reducing twisting), low catching pen doors (minimising impact), moveable downtube positions towards and away from the chute (helping to ensure the front feet of the sheep fall into the chute when finished) and finally, a wide (800mm) and recessed (200mm) chute, with a lower leading edge (150mm) below the board, not protruding as a hazard into the catching pen.
Lunch and light refreshments will be available on the day.
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