Handling equipment definitely generated the most interest at the event, particularly those which minimised labour requirements.

Shearwell and Ritchie were just two companies with kit on show.

With labour becoming both hard to find and difficult to financially justify, new handling systems are concentrating upon becoming one-man operations.

And both the new Ritchie CombiClamp and Shearwell’s Sheep Station are just that – one man handling systems designed to make dagging, drenching, vaccinating and ear-tagging quick and stress free.

Richard Webber, Shearwell’s chief executive, claimed the Sheep Station, which comprises a flat hydraulically driven moving walkway leading into the mouth of two conveyor belts in a V configuration, would have many applications.

“Fewer people are needed to ensure sheep are kept moving forward for electronic identification, drenching, vaccination or dipping,” Mr Webber said.

He suggested its ability to stop and hold sheep with their feet off the ground would assist with grading, tagging, condition scoring and general inspections.

“While it may seem a simple innovation, the moving walkway delivers significant benefits to the already standard V belt system.

It saves time, cuts labour costs and increases productivity.”

But the trailer-mounted system is likely to cost between £10,000 and £12,000 and Mr Webber predicted that it would attract contractor customers.

As a cheaper option, farmers flocked to see the new CombiClamp handling system imported from New Zealand by Ritchie Implements.

Using a mechanical, lockable footplate system animals can be held in position in The CombiClamp while being treated, either one at a time or several together.

One man’s weight is more than sufficient to keep animals in place while routine tasks are carried out.

A cushioned side grips animals for both comfort and holding ability, while a lockable option means operators can leave the animal in position while pushing up the device.

The CombiClamp costs about £2500.

bobdavies@agrinews.fsnet.co.uk