Up to 300 sheep can be dipped or vaccinated within an hour using just four scrubbing brushes and a locking mechanism mounted onto this immobilising clamp.
After his studies at the Potchefstroom Agricultural College, Mr. Sarel Vorster from the Eastern Cape in South AFrica worked on a farm in England where he was amazed to see how few workers the farmers made do with for daily tasks.
“Because I had to do most of the work myself in a foreign country and didn’t have the luxury of being able to delegate, once I returned to South Africa I started doing research on the internet about how we could also make do with fewer workers for daily chores here,” he says.
LESSONS FROM DOWN UNDER
“Sheep are the main enterprise on our farm, so I was particularly interested in the Australian and New Zealand systems. One of the websites showed how farmers in New Zealand use a sheep catcher which works with compressed air to simultaneously restrain four sheep. To prevent the sheep escaping, they used a type of Velcro on the sides of the catcher. That’s how I got the idea of designing a catcher I can simply push closed with my hip. I mounted four scrubbing brushes on one of the sides, instead of using Velcro” (see graphic).
‘I mounted four scrubbing brushes on one of the sides, instead of using Velcro’
Sarel built his first prototype about five years ago with materials lying around on his farm.
“Meanwhile, I had adapted the catcher so I could also weigh sheep on it by simply sliding weigh bars underneath it. The clamping mechanism to keep it closed works on the same principle as cattle head clamps. For the handle, I used an old teat cup,” he says.
The catcher cost him a mere ZMW 400 to make.
Sarel also acquired sheepdogs and trained them. He no longer needs to bring his sheep to the pen near the house. “We now go to the sheep in the camps. While the dogs herd the sheep, one worker and I set up the kraal.”
‘While the dogs herd the sheep, one worker and I set up the kraal.’
Sarel says the alley leading to the catcher can be 3m to 9m long. With young sheep, he prefers a longer alley. “The longer the alley, the more difficult it is for the dogs to herd them.”
The catcher has three settings to accommodate sheep with both long and short wool, as well as lambs. Sarel says he and one worker can easily dip or vaccinate up to 300 sheep an hour.
ENQUIRIES: Mr Sarel Vorster, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.