Hilton Barrett opens innovative shearing shed at Brocklehurst

Central west shearing contractor Hilton Barrett has for the past 18 months been through a long process creating a shearing shed design that focuses on human and animal welfare.

Mr Barrett went through consultation with shearers, classers and wool growers to design the shed based on the following criteria, efficiency for workers and the flow of livestock, worker safety, quality wool preparation and animal welfare.

His design was open on Saturday, July 27 at Brocklehurst for the public to see and approximately 400 people turned up.

"It shows there's a bit of confidence in the industry and also awareness that things need to be done with infrastructure that we've got our staff working in," he said.

The contractor said he wanted people to see first-hand the design to get an understanding of how it works. Mr Barrett said if the shed isn't the best in Australia, it was "the most efficient shearing shed in the world."

He said some existing shearing sheds don't even have a flushing toilet or clean water for shearers to drink.

"If we want to keep people in the industry we need to dispense money into infrastructure to make sure we can keep the right one's in it," Mr Barrett said.

Australian Wool Innovation backed the research and development of the project and Mr Barrett paid for the shearing shed to be built.

He spoke with some of the industry's fastest and most efficient shearers in the consultation process.

"There was a base plan that we knew we needed to get," Mr Barrett explained about going into the research.

"It was about making sure it (the shed) worked for everybody, not just the shearer, the presser or the wool handler, it had to work for everybody and there were compromises made right across to make sure when we do go to work everyone wants to go to work and everyone is happy to be there."

This is the first shed of its kind and now that they are blueprints available, Mr Barrett said it can potentially save a farmer between $50,000 and $100,000 on a six-stand shearing shed.

"Because they've got a free set of blueprints a builder can now fit out that shearing shed," he said.

"That's what it (the project) was about. Not only building the shearing shed to make sure it was going to work but it was going to give something free to the farmers so they can save a fair bit of money on one of their key infrastructure for the shearing industry."

As a shearing contractor, Mr Barrett goes through 250 staff each year and before the drought was shearing 700,000 sheep per yer.

"So we have some idea what goes on in shearing sheds and how to keep staff," he said.

"How not to keep staff is putting them into shearing sheds where it doesn't work... where there's no running water, or flushing toilet."

Speaking to the wool classer on Saturday, Mr Barrett said he was told the shearers said they would fight to come to these shearing sheds.

Mr Barrett said a shearer who shears 200 sheep will drink from eight to 12 litres of water a day.

To build this shearing shed at 20 x 24 metres working area for around $300,00 and depending on farmers input equals to three bales of wool for 50 years or 30 crossbred lambs per yer.