7 June 1996

Bad back leads to a top prize with an easy-turn sheep crate

Invention competitions are often a good source of low cost, labour-saving devices. Nick Brown reports on this years Farmers Brainwaves event, held at the Royal Bath & West Show

A SHEEP turnover crate took top prize in the patented section of the Farmers Brainwaves competition at this years Royal Bath and West Show, Shepton Mallet.

Minimal operator effort was the most important design factor for Kwik-Sheep crate inventor, Steven Webber, who hails from East Court, Cadeleigh, near Tiverton, Devon.

"I damaged my back in a motorcycle accident last year, so the crate had to be very light to operate," says Mr Webber.

Crate design is based on the idea of a tombola barrel, with the barrel replaced by a crush which is mounted within a pair of rotating steel hoops. The sheep walks into a V-profiled crush. Then, once the gates are closed, the operator pulls the pivoting side panels in towards the animal, holding it in place and reducing foot contact with the ground.

A ratcheted back support is then pushed down and, with a foot on the release lever, the crate can be rotated until the lever locks with the animal upside down. The sheep is held firmly in position by the backrest and the two side panels.

Mr Webber, who has spent the past 18 months developing the crate with his brother, Colin, claims the design has been tested with "every breed from a Jacob to a Scottish Mule".

The Kwik-Sheep Turnover Crate has now been patented, and from July it will be manufactured by Industrial and Agricultural Engineers at Leek in Staffordshire. Price of the crate has yet to be announced.

A tombola provided the inspiration for Steven Webbers award-winning Kwik-Sheep cradle.