9 June 1995

Easy-feeding idea takes top spot at Brainwaves event

Not every farming problem needs a high-tech solution. Andrew Faulkner reviews the low-cost, winning entries in this years Farmers Brainwaves competition at the Bath and West Show

A SHEEP feeding/handling system took the top award in the Farmers Brainwaves competition at the Bath and West Show, Shepton Mallet.

Designed by Hampshire smallholder Jean Smith, the Easyfeeder comprises modified 1.2m (4ft) long interlocking hurdles. The sections are linked together in a circle to accommodate either one round bale of hay/silage or 8-10 conventional bales.

Similar in appearance to conventional interlocked 1.8m (6ft) long hurdles, the Easyfeeder sections have vertical rather than horizontal bars that let sheep feed through. Bar spacing is 200mm (8in) and a five-section system gives feeding space for 30 ewes.

"The beauty of the system is that the feeder can be built around the bale," Mrs Smith says.

"Because each of the five sections weighs just 15lb I can easily move the feeder to wherever it is needed. I can even fit it in the back of my Renault van."

Mrs Smith breeds British Icelandic and Gotland sheep on her 0.6ha (1.5-acre) smallholding at Treeside, Sherfield English. The 60-ewe flock lambs indoors in March/April and then moves out, with lambs at foot, on to a further 16ha (40 acres) of grass rented in the Sherfield English area.

When the ewes are out at grass the Easyfeeder sections can be set up for use as either a lamb creep feeder or a handling race for jobs such as drenching, spraying and footbathing.

Mrs Smith is building the Easyfeeder sections for sale. Price per section is £14.

Jean Smiths vertical-barred hurdles double as a round-bale feeder or a sheep handling system.