Woolshed and yard design at 'Curragh', Oxley

Now this is a shearing shed! Take a walk through Bill Ryan's shearing shed, yards, confinement feeding yards and staff quarters to get an understanding of how good planning and design can support property management and improve farm business resilience. The shed and yards are set up to make shearing more efficient, safer and simple.

The investment in infrastructure at the 85,600 ha “Curragh” has been made to improve the resilience of the farm business by ensuring that quality contractors and staff can be sourced more readily by providing excellent facilities. The containment yards are utilised during dry periods for containment feeding during dry periods to protect ground cover and reduce the impacts of wind erosion.

Shearing takes place once a year in September to shear about 30,000 sheep (some 2,300 a day). There are no count out pens and tallies are kept by individual shearers. The yard design is such that woolly and shorn sheep are separated and handled in adjacent yards (mirrored design). This allows multiple operations to occur at shearing time which greatly improves efficiency.

The system also incorporates a double laneway system used to bring woolly sheep to the shed and shorn sheep out. Sheep walk up to 70 km often in large mobs of the same age.

Find out more in this short video developed through the Farm Business Resilience Program, a partnership between the Australian Government's Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, the Future Drought Fund, NSW Department of Primary Industries and Local Land Services.


Bill Ryan:

We were shearing at two different sheds and they're probably an hour apart.

Eight shearers in one shed and six in another, and it was a pretty much a logistical nightmare.

The shed was built in 2018. It's a simple, horseshoe shaped design with all the wool working area in the middle.

The rouseabouts are split into like two separate teams, so that will sort of look after six or seven shearers on one side of the shed.

And same with the others. We have safety cut off switches to push the button. Anyone in the shed can shut the whole thing down.

Other things that we've had installed in the shed to make things a bit easier and safer this year is just like the sloping pens that aids the shearer
to drag the sheep out.

And also the single swinging doors mean that a shearer doesn't have to drag a sheep around.

We have our main bore here. It's also where we live, so it's essential that we have good capacity to be able to water the sheep.

We tried to minimize where underneath the shed where sheep would walk because we don't want them compacting the manure, which needs to be cleaned out, so we had to widen that a little bit sheep weren't flowing well underneath.

That was one thing we found that we didn't get right and we had to change afterwards to make sure the sheep were clearing out under the under the wool shed.

Essentially, there's two sets of yards that a mirror image of each other, and the idea behind that is to have one set of yards, which is just for woolly sheep and another set of yards, which is just for shorn sheep.

We have a double working race, which we use for conditions, scoring all the sheep conditions scored off the board here.

And we treat them, according to their condition, to try and get them primed for for joining, which happens just two to three months after shearing.

We have 17 rooms, sleeps 34, gets filled up at shearing time. We have air conditioned rooms and modern kitchen and and that sort of thing. It is pretty important to have good facilities.

Shearers are not getting any easier to find, and it's pretty important for everybody in the industry to provide good facilities.

The sheep finally come to this shed for shearing. All the crushing is done around the property at different sets of yards on a mobile cutting trailer,
which which saves a lot of time.

We're found containment feeding to be a very good tool in this part of the world, and that allows us to in drier times to lock our sheep up in a small area and save our landscape from degradation to overgrazing.

And we provide the animal feed for those sheep that are in that area and we still have the sheep on hand if the season changes, which it can do quite quickly.

So that's probably built quite a bit of resilience into our business, having that option.

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