Manual Handling Solutions for Farms (HSE AS23)

Handling and casting sheep

The problem

Handling sheep regularly for routine flock management involves a lot of manual effort. One example is casting adult sheep for foot trimming. The risks arise both from the effort in turning the sheep and then from the awkward posture reaching down to the animal.

Solutions

As with many risks, avoiding the job or doing it less often is the preferred solution, eg avoid introducing footrot, vaccinate, use a footbath, or where possible allow access to stony ground. However, where sheep have to be cast, and especially where this involves a group of animals, a turnover crate will reduce the manual handling risks. A turnover crate can also be used in conjunction with a handling system to aid the flow of animals, enable shedding and with some, present the sheep on an elevated platform to reduce bending when drenching, dagging etc (see Figure 5). A number of different designs are available.

Figure 5: Sheep turnover cradle

 Consider a turnover crate and handling system to:

  • make sheep struggle less;
  • avoid lifting forces - good designs rotate without raising the sheep's centre of gravity too much;
  • avoid sitting sheep on dirty ground, contaminating wool and risking flystrike.
  • present the sheep at the right height and the right way up;

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