Safety first as farmers upgrade stock handling equipment
Story Added : 21st March 2011
Kondinin Group livestock researcher Fleur Muller, said many of these accidents were a result of run-down and unsafe stockyards.
“Poorly designed stockyards can not only result in more handling hours but also, more importantly, increase the risk of injury to both the handler and stock,” Mrs Muller said.
Building safer and as a result more productive stockyards is the topic of Kondinin Group’s latest Research Report.
“Many farmers are increasing their livestock numbers or going back into stock after a time out of the industry, and as a result are investing in upgrading their sheep and cattle infrastructure.”
“Stockyards are a large investment so it is important to ensure the design, site and materials are well researched and ultimately improve the working environment for both animals and operators.”
“A well-designed and built set of yards can pay for itself many times over if operator effort is reduced and stockflow is enhanced,” Mrs Muller said.
According to Kondinin Group’s stockyard Research Report carrying out a safety audit of existing yards can provide a valuable insight into what needs to be improved to increase safety.
“Identifying and repairing hazards is the first step in addressing the safety of existing stockyards,” Mrs Muller said.
“Simple procedures such as attending to protruding nails, bolts, wire, broken rails, ensuring that gates swing freely, and that the crush and bailhead are in good working order, go a long way in protecting staff and livestock.”
“If safety is seriously compromised and modifications look to be quite extensive, existing yards may need to be rebuilt. This is an ideal opportunity to look at innovative designs that not only boost productivity, but help make animal handling safer and more humane.”
Knowing where to start can be quite overwhelming when planning a new stockyard as there are many factors to consider such as budget constraints, ability to handle current and future workloads, and the ability to cater for various stock handling operations.
The entire working environment including yard capacity, the slope of the site, floor surface, choice of building materials, gate latches, hand and knee rails and kick boards also need to meet Australian standards.
Mrs Muller recommends deciding on all the activities that need to be carried out in the yards and considering how they are best achieved.
“Make a complete list of all current and future operations that will be carried out such as receiving and holding, drafting, weighing, drenching, vaccination, ear tagging and pregnancy testing, loading, and unloading.”
Location, size and the choice of yard construction materials then need to be carefully considered. Whether the stockyard is manufactured from steel or timber will largely depend on availability, cost, ease of erection, access to labour and future maintenance.
Kondinin Group’s stockyard Research Report features yard designs, tips and techniques from sheep and cattle producers from across Australia. To read the full report click here.