A focus on separating staff and cattle combined with an air operated yards system has greatly improved livestock handling safety at Ashvale Station.
The cattle operation, situated near Harlin via Toogoolawah in south east Queensland, have a 4047 hectare property plus lease a further 5261 hectares on a joining block.
Ashvale Station manager Tim Collins said the new cattle yards were built by Thompson Longhorn and incorporate the latest in cattle handling safety design.
On the northern end there are feed pens and bunks where the operation plans to create feedlot pens once approval is received by required authorities. Closer towards the yards there’s drafting and weaning yards plus holding pens, then on the western side it feeds into the cattle yards to an air operated cattle drafting pound and race leading to the multi-cattle crush set-up with all air operated gates throughout the entire facility. The yards can also draft cattle five different ways without a cattle person needing to directly handle livestock in the yards, plus it contains stamped concrete in all high cattle traffic areas.
“The overriding safety priority was taking workers out of the yards with cattle and placing them on raised external platforms with button operated air gates,” Mr Collins said.
“Safety is so important to us and investing in these new cattle yards was part of a strong focus by Ashvale Station to create a safe workplace.”
Mr Collins said safety was a high-priority as manager of Ashvale Station because “everyone has a right to hop in there car and drive out the front gate safe and well”.
A big challenge for the cattle business was keeping both staff and cattle safe while new workers were being trained in cattle handling and processing.
“We found keeping cattle and workers separate in the yard’s design has overcome that problem and allowed our staff to learn low-stress cattle handling more safely,” Mr Collins said.
The Ashvale Station’s cattle operation runs Brahman cows with Charolais bulls, plus has recently started breeding Angus cows with Wagyu bulls.
The main parts of the cattle yards are also under a roof cover that provides shade for staff and cattle.
“It’s also very important for us a maintain high animal welfare standards in all parts of our cattle business, which goes hand-in-hand with worker and cattle safety while processing livestock,” Mr Collins said.
Putting a cover over the cattle yards also increased staff safety during wet weather as “slip hazards were also greatly reduced”, according to Mr Collins.
The new cattle yards cost $250,000 plus the roofing cover was an additional expense.
“We identified that cattle handling in the yards was one of the largest safety risks in our overall cattle breeding business,” he said.
“In addition, we plan to continue growing the size of our cattle operation and this will mean more utilization of cattle yards and an increased safety risk for staff.”
This motivated the decision to invest in a completely new set of cattle yards that have been in use at the property for about a year.
The Ashvale Station cattle yards also have a double-deck truck ramp to increase the efficiency of loading and unloading livestock.
“We were once again motivated by safety risk reduction because a double truck ramp meant stock handlers or truck drivers don’t have to lower the internal ramp in a cattle truck, which is one less risk hazard to mitigate on-property,” Mr Collins said.
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