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Sheep handling system offers an easier way of working The Combi Clamp sheep handling system in action.

David and Emmie Cowie run 1,200– 1,600 ewes between the two of them on their farm in Scotland. With the oilfields off Aberdeen, local labour can be hard to find and additional help

can be costly. “We knew something was going to have to change,” Emmie explained, “this realisation has crept up on us slowly, as we have got older, each year we said next year we need

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to sort this!” Last year, the Cowies took a long hard look at how they manage sheep through their pens. “This is where the main problems lie,” David said, adding, that he has a “niggly” back while Emmie has issues with her knees. “As all shepherds and farmers know, a day’s work in the sheep pens is hard physical labour and, for us, it can take a couple of days of recovery before we are back to our normal ways.” Considering all the options, the couple looked at a conveyer type race which practically “sucked the ewes up”, moving them along and holding them in place for dosing etc. “It looked to be the Rolls-Royce of sheep handling, but it also had the price tag to match,” they commented. With so many moving parts and motors, there was a concern over maintenance. They also believed the race needed to be undercover and this would require additional capital investment and therefore was removed from the list fairly quickly. While browsing on social media, Emmie spotted positive feedback on the Combi Clamp manufactured by Ritchie Agricultural. She made further enquiries by getting in contact with shepherds and other farmers that were using the Combi Clamp, and it soon became clear that it warranted further investigation. “Nobody had a negative point, it was a simple design with no electrics or motors,” she said. “Working on a simple pivot system, there was not much at all to go wrong.” The Cowies made contact with their local dealer – AM Philips – to enquire as to the availability and, most importantly, the price. Not being put off they then arranged a demo. Bob Ritchie duly arrived with Kevin from

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AM Philips and a Combi Clamp. Chatting through the system with Emmie and David, Bob advised and assisted in positioning the unit. Running a few sheep through for worming, and the odd foot which needed attention, Bob and Kevin stayed to make sure they were happy and then left them to it. Both Emmie and David felt it was a completely different way of working with the sheep, highlighting that the Combi Clamp brings the sheep up to their level and in front of them, so there isn’t the constant “bending and riving about trying to get them where you want them”. Emmie stated that with mules and Easy Cares, she was concerned as to how the Combi Clamp would handle the wool shedding sheep. But the adjustable width settings allowing different size sheep at differing stages of wool growth to be held comfortably soon became apparent. “There is some degree of flex in one side allowing all sizes of sheep to be secure without being over tight,” confirmed Emmie. Having tried the Combi Clamp in different locations around their permanent pens, it proved not to be a difficult decision to keep it. With no regrets in purchasing the Combi Clamp, Emmie and David said how they wished they’d got one sooner, “before backs and knees got into a sorry state”. But when you’re young and healthy with your whole working life ahead of you, you don’t think about the damage you’re doing to yourselves,” David added. “As it is, we’ve extended our working lives considerably, of that there is no doubt. We’ve also got more time for family life and other things, even the days following a long day in the pens,” with Emmie adding that the Combi Clamp has definitely made it easier for the two of them. ■

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Farmers Guide Magazine February 2018 Issue

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Farmers Guide Magazine February 2018 Issue