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Wool harvesting innovations from AWI

A key priority for AWI is to encourage the development of new technological innovations.

Australian Wool Innovation
Wool harvesting innovations from AWI

Harvesting wool has always been a crucial component of all wool-growing operations - and AWI has a history of investment in new harvesting technologies, as well as shearer and wool handler training.

However, the recent increase in demand for harvesting workers has highlighted not only the need for more training, but also the need for new technological options. This situation has been made more critical given that the size of the national flock is rising again.

Finding solutions for woolgrowers, now and for the long term, is a leading priority for AWI.

MODULAR SHEEP DELIVERY UNITS

A new modular sheep delivery unit, developed with AWI funding, delivers sheep directly to the shearer. It not only eliminates the time and energy that shearers spend having to walk to the pen, catch a sheep and drag it back to the shearing stand - the catch and drag - but it also minimises the chance of injury to the shearer from the dragging and twisting movements.

The design focuses on a ‘modular' concept in which portable singular shearing stands can be joined together to make a multi-stand shearing platform, which can be stored away after use. Each modular unit holds three sheep in a race at the back of the unit. A dummy pen is fitted onto the end of the race to assist with the flow of the sheep.

The automatic module contains a pneumatically-powered delivery section that, at the press of a button, moves out from the race and then tilts the sheep into a position suitable for the shearer to then easily retrieve the animal.

There is also an alternative manual module; its delivery race is very similar to the automatic module's race, except that in the race there is a simple gate, in place of the automatic delivery section. The shearer simply opens the gate and collects the sheep from the race and manoeuvres the sheep the metre or so to the centre of the board before starting shearing.

For both modules, an angled shoot allows for simple release of the shorn sheep underneath the race - again without significant dragging or twisting.

The potential benefits of the modular sheep delivery unit for woolgrowers and the industry include:

• improved efficiency for workers and the flow of livestock

• decrease in shearer injuries

• increased attraction and retention of shearers to the industry

• cost effective option when upgrading infrastructure

• provides an avenue for multipurpose sheds.

The engineering plans for the module are available from AWI for interested woolgrowers. For more information, visit www.wool.com/sheep-delivery and www.haynesengineering.com.au.

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AWI WOOL HARVESTING INNOVATION DEMONSTRATION DAY

To enable woolgrowers to see the current results of AWI's research and development work in wool harvesting, as well as commercial products from third-party machinery and shed manufacturers, AWI held a Wool Harvesting Innovation Demonstration Day on 17 May at its Falkiner Memorial Field Station at Conargo in southern New South Wales.

As every woolgrower's operation and setup are different, the demonstration day showcased in one venue a range of new harvesting options for growers to explore and see what could fit into their own business.

Highlights of the day included demonstrations of the

• Modular sheep delivery unit

• Peak Hill's ShearEzy upright posture shearing machine, which was demonstrated by Shearing World, a company that specialises in the shearing of cross-bred rams and which uses the ShearEzy unit on its mobile shearing trailers.

• Shear Anywhere wool harvesting system, developed by woolgrower Grant Burbidge of Burbidge Farms. In this modular system, sheep are delivered onto a shearing cradle to the shearer who works in an upright position and does not catch and drag sheep from a pen.

• 3D Shearing, which is a shearing contractor with a custom-made three-stand mobile trailer with race delivery that has been specially designed with a short drag system. Hiring a mobile shearing unit eliminates the cost and complexity of building a new shed.

Also on display were several new technologies currently under development with AWI funding, including a portable, smart sensor shearing handpiece which has the potential to make shearing available to less experienced operators; wearable technology that will provide shearers with an early warning alert when they are becoming vulnerable to potential fatigue-triggered injuries; and a semi-autonomous wool handling system to cover the steps from the wool table through to baling.

AWI staff were also on hand to provide the latest information to woolgrowers on AWI's Shearing Shed Design for which blueprints are available free of charge, the SafeSheds shearing shed safety program which includes a best practice guide and checklists, and AWI's shearer and wool handler training initiatives that help attract and retain new entrants into the wool harvesting industry.

See www.wool.com for more details.

ABOUT THIS COMPANY
Australian Wool Innovation

Our mission is to make strategically targeted investments to enhance the profitability, international competitiveness and sustainability of the Australian wool industry.

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