If large parts of your farm are inaccessible and you practice ultra-high stock-density grazing, then you’d better have plenty of good ideas – just ask livestock farmer André Lund!
The Karoo ultra-high stock-density grazing experiment on André Lund’s farm Elandsfontein near Beaufort West in the Western Cape province of South Africa required a mobile stock handling facility, or kraal as it is called in South Africa, for the weighing and handling of large and small livestock for research purposes.
André Lund’s ultra-high stock-density grazing system has doubled his farm’s carrying capacity but because the system has attracted so much criticism and has received so little support from official circles, the Lunds were forced to do their own research on this system. There has been some support, namely from NMR Engineering in Newcastle, which specialises in the manufacture of equipment for the feeding and handling of livestock.
This company sponsored a kraal in 2003 and delivered it to Elandsfontein at no cost. The kraal clearly demonstrated the value of movable equipment in intensive livestock systems such as the ultra-high density grazing system, says André.
‘The loading up of livestock was always a problem and the handling of the animals on the expansive farm was time consuming and difficult for everyone’
Certain parts of Elandsfontein can only be reached via mountain tracks and can’t be accessed by large cattle trucks. “The loading up of livestock was thus always a problem and the handling of the animals on the expansive farm was time consuming and difficult for everyone,” says André.
The only solution therefore was to adapt the mobile kraal made by NMR Engineering so that it could be multifunctional. Gustaaf Lund, André’s son, made a multipurpose, mobile cattle and sheep kraal that provided everything they needed to work with large and small livestock and to load the animals.
THE ADAPTATION OF THE KRAAL
The mobile cattle and sheep kraal consists of three sections. Firstly, there is a chassis with wheels and a winch that can load up and offload the separate crush (the second part), and at the same time can function as a loading ramp. The third part is NMR’s gate system that forms a herding kraal when it is erected next to an existing kraal.
The framework of the crush is made of steel pipes. The sides of the framework are closed with corrugated iron to protect the legs of the livestock and the floor of the loading ramp is covered with 35mm-thick wooden planks to provide a sound footing for the animals.
The chassis has adjustable supports that facilitate the unhooking of the system from the towing vehicle.
A tow bar is attached to the wheels, with which the whole system can be hitched to a vehicle when it is folded up. The winch is positioned in such a way that it has a cable that can raise the loading deck.
If you wish to use the crush as a loading ramp then it is put back on the chassis, which then acts as a pedestal.
The Lunds built the crush from scrap materials and calculate that if a farmer builds it himself it will cost R40 000 to R50 000 (K27 500 to K34 000). If you buy a similar system, it will cost between R100 000 and R120 000 (K70 000 to K82 000).
TOOL FOR BENDING ROUND IRON BARS
In his ultra-high stock-density grazing system, André uses moveable water troughs. It became necessary to replace the fibreglass ridges on the shell of the troughs with something more durable. The ridges serve as a footing for the smaller animals when they come to drink. Two small sliding door rollers and one large one were employed to bend the iron bars. These are ordinary gate rollers that are used in security gates.
The two small rollers are static and mounted horizontally on a section of channel iron that can be clamped in place in a vice. The large roller is mounted on the channel iron on a solid axle with a heavy-duty hinge, in line with the two smaller rollers. This this adjusted by a long bolt affixed to the end of the hinge.
To bend the bars, the round iron bars are fed in-between the three rollers by turning the large roller. In this fashion, neat rings, both large and small, can be made. The black pipe serves as the handle to turn the large roller and to feed in the pipe to be bent.
This tool cost R700 (K500) to build.
ENQUIRIES: André Lund, cell +2782 719 2030; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org