14 February 1997

Mobile sheep dips debut in the flesh

ALREADY a TV personality, an Irish mobile dip made its "in the flesh" debut at last weeks Farm Machinery Show, Dublin.

First featured on a January edition of BBCs Countryfile, the P & I Engineering Dipsafe is a fully enclosed sheep dipping system designed to give operators maximum protection against chemical contact.

According to P & Is Pat McGonigle, inspiration for the device came from last years adverse publicity surrounding organophosphate (OP) dips.

"The idea was to develop what we now think is the safest way to dip sheep for both farmers and contractors," Mr McGonigle says. "The other big benefit is that you can cart the dipping unit to the sheep, and not vice-versa."

Mounted on a sprung twin-axle chassis, the Dipsafe comprises an enclosed 1130-litre (250gal) capacity dip tank and entry/exit ramps. Two 1000-litre (220gal) saddle tanks, on either side of the chassis, carry the chemical concentrate and water, and are used to fill/top up the main "bath".

Pumping power for both fluids – dip and water – comes from a hydraulically-powered unit and changeover valve, which control liquid flow and mix concentration, while an 8hp petrol motor supplies pump drive.

When the complete handling system has been set up in the field or yard – a task that takes about five minutes – sheep are herded on to the entry conveyor and into the main tank. Emerging at the other end, the animals are then sprayed with dip to ensure total chemical coverage.

From the shower area, next move is on to a 3m (10ft) drip tray, capable of accommodating up to six animals, before exiting down the departure chute and away. Hence, in effect, there is no need for the shepherd to have any contact with the dipped stock.

A further operator failsafe is a wash-down facility, which can also be used to wash-off the unit before packing up.

Weighing in at 3.5t when full laden with liquid, the Dipsafe can be towed behind either 4WD vehicle or tractor to and from the dipping site. Price is about £15,000.

Displayed in transport mode, the Dipsafe mobile dip comes with entry/exit ramps, 1130-litre (250gal) main bath and twin saddle tanks – one for concentrate, one for water. Dipsafe price is about £15,000.