Au­to­mated sheep feeder takes out Henty award

Au­to­ma­tion helps de­liver feed con­trol

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

AN AU­TO­MATED sheep feeder de­signed to de­liver a con­trolled main­te­nance ra­tion at pre-set times and re­duce mis­moth­er­ing has won the 2018 Henty Agri-In­no­va­tors Award.

The Shep­herd was de­signed and en­tered by Justin Dunn, Thun­der Val­ley, Temora, and drew much pub­lic in­ter­est dur­ing the Henty Ma­chin­ery Field Days on Septem­ber 18–20.

The award was pre­sented by HMFD di­rec­tor Matt Noll.

The so­lar pow­ered feeder has a pro­gram­mable timer and sen­sor, with a buzzer alarm sound­ing to alert the sheep when the feed­ing pe­riod has be­gun.

Mr Dunn runs a 1000-head lamb feed­lot and a flock of Aus­tralian whites with a cat­tle and crop­ping op­er­a­tion.

His de­sign of the au­to­mated sheep feeder is in the fi­nal stages of de­vel­op­ment fol­low­ing tri­als of a pro­to­type with feed­ing a main­te­nance ra­tion to ewes and lambs this sea­son.

The 18m-long feeder fea­tures a 1.7cu m grain stor­age bin and is ca­pa­ble of sup­port­ing a den­sity of ap­prox­i­mately 200 lambs at the trough.

The feeder is equipped with prox­im­ity switches to pre­vent over­fill­ing of the feed trough, and a cor­ru­gated roof runs the full length of the tray as weather pro­tec­tion.

Mr Dunn said the amount of grain used and the time spent feed­ing cre­ated by the auto feeder was a leap for­ward for his fam­ily in their farm­ing prac­tice.

He paid trib­ute to Scott Black­well from Black­well’s Engi­neer­ing, Temora, for as­sis­tance with the sheep feeder.

“It has been great to talk to pro­duc­ers at the field days

about how it might suit their pro­duc­tion and how they do their feed­ing,” he said.

“I can learn so much by talk­ing to pro­duc­ers and be­ing out there.”

Highly com­mended in the Agri-In­no­va­tors Award was a trail­ing spray unit en­tered by Keith Smith, Mil­vale, NSW.

The en­tries had to meet the cri­te­ria of hav­ing a prac­ti­cal on-farm ap­pli­ca­tion, be­ing based on an orig­i­nal idea of the en­trant and not be­ing in full-scale pro­duc­tion at the time of en­try.

The award was judged by HMFD Co-op­er­a­tive mem­bers Joshua Ma­her, Sheree Ham­son and Eron Thomp­son at the Henty Ma­chin­ery Field

Days on Septem­ber 19.

Mrs Ham­son said the cost and time sav­ings, plus re­duced grain wastage of The Shep­herd, were im­pres­sive.

“The price of grain this year is high so you don’t want to be wast­ing any and still get­ting good lamb weights,” she said.

“Not only is it use­ful for

get­ting lambs started and fin­ished, but it is ef­fi­cient at au­tomat­ing trail feed­ing with­out an op­er­a­tor hav­ing to be there.

“It is in­no­va­tive and clever in de­sign – there are no shy feed­ers or mis­moth­er­ing.

“Grain can be in­tro­duced slowly, re­duc­ing meta­bolic

is­sues – this feeder can de­liver 50 grams/head for the first day and grad­u­ally in­crease the amount to the full ra­tion.”

Judge Joshua Ma­her said the labour sav­ings cre­ated by The Shep­herd were the key.

“It doesn’t re­quire mains power, mak­ing it ideal for pas­toral and re­mote lo­ca­tions,” Mr Ma­her said.

“The bin only needs top­ping up once a week and it can feed 200 head of sheep.

“It’s about hav­ing all the sheep at the feeder at the same time so there are no strag­glers miss­ing out.

“It is highly suit­able for chang­ing ra­tions over from oats to higher starch grains.”

❝re­duc­ing Grain can be in­tro­duced slowly, meta­bolic is­sues – this feeder can de­liver 50 grams/head for the first day and grad­u­ally in­crease the amount to the full ra­tion.

— Justin Dunn

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

HIGH-TECH: Justin Dunn from Temora, NSW, win­ner of the Henty Agri-In­no­va­tors Award with the The Shep­herd auto sheep feeder.

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