Automated sheep drafting took a novel turn at Sheep South West when Shearwell Data launched the U Draft system, a bluetooth-enabled headset that allows the operator to pre-select the drafting option and then be told which sheep to draft according to their electronic identification.

Working with Shearwell’s FarmWorks computer programme, the system lets the handler identify the animals to be drafted on the computer, said Shearwell’s Richard Webber. These choices were then uploaded to the handheld recorder, which then transmitted drafting instructions via a race reader or the integrated reader to the headphones, .

“As sheep run through the race the headset tells the operator which way to sort them,” he said.

At £250 the headset was an alternative to Shearwell’s complete autodraft system, with a saving of about £4500. “This makes it an affordable alternative for those wanting a lower outlay with the convenience and efficiency of automated drafting.”

Using Shearwell’s U Draft system allows operators to preselect which sheep they want to sort and be guided by the system’s headphones.