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Author Topic: handling system recomendations  (Read 1344 times)


  • Joined Jul 2022
handling system recomendations
« on: September 23, 2022, 01:11:00 pm »
im after some tried and tested ideas on a hadling system.
i have 8 sheep right now, looking to up it to about 20/25 in the next 5 years.

can anyone suggest a work horse type system please


  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: handling system recomendations
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2022, 02:22:24 pm »
If you’ve got somewhere to leave it set up, a simple race would suffice like this below. I have mine set up in a shed with a couple of pens

If you want mobile, rappa have a few yards that can be moved around, fairly pricey though.


  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: handling system recomendations
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2022, 05:30:28 pm »
I had something similar to twizzel in terms of race, guillotine gate and shedding gate. Mine was from IAE. I also had a Modulamb AI crate, which wasn't cheap but it allowed my to do feet (like a pony) dag, jag, dose, trim face (we had Ryelands and wool blindness was an issue) on my own (much less stressful than with help  :innocent: ). I also had a forcing gate (just a hurdle) which hinged at the guillotine gate to force them up the race.


  • Joined Jul 2022
Re: handling system recomendations
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2022, 08:02:38 am »
thank you. i think thats eaxctly what i need along with hurdles.

ill have a search and get ordering 1 for next year


  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: handling system recomendations
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2022, 08:07:59 am »
You can find them second hand sometimes, would be worth looking as new they’re over £1000 now. I paid £200 for my basic race, end gate, front stop gate and shedding gate. Make sure whatever you get is galvanised and has a sheeted race, there’s quite a few powder coated cheap knock offs with normal bars for the race sections which wouldn’t help sheep flow.

I’m looking for a second hand rappa but not found one yet. We may look at a new one when the new round of government grants come out.


  • Joined Mar 2012
  • Carmarthenshire/Pembrokeshire Borders
Re: handling system recomendations
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2022, 09:50:51 am »
Good luck in finding a second hand Rappa - rarer than rocking horse poo!

Your choice will be determined by the space available to leave a permanent system set up, or the flexibility (and unfortunately expense) of a mobile system.  Numbers and breed of sheep also has a big influence. We have 150 sheep and goats (including Wiltshire Horns) so the ability to handle a large horned animal is a factor for us.

My advice would be to see as many systems on farms as possible and visit all the shows to see for yourself. The race element is all about getting a smooth flow through the system, but you may need something to immobilise an animal for dosing, feet trimming etc.  Most importantly remember that you can always add to the system later (and sell bits that don't work!).  We found that the turnover crate we originally bought simply didn't work for the horned sheep (and the goats hated it!) so we sold it and invested in a Combi-Crush from Ritchie. Excellent piece of kit which I highly recommend. You can mount it on weigh bars if you want an all singing and dancing system.

Although we can move the animals to the handling system (rather than the other way round) there are numerous ties this doesn't work so last year we took the plunge and purchased a small Rappa starter system (the one on the buggy trailer). Very please with it.  the hurdles all link together so driving sheep into an area and pulling the hurdles up behind them is a doddle. The race and drafting gate works well and most of all the elements are lightweight (but rigid and strong) which is important to us as we get older. We are VAT registered so the system (with a few extras) was under £4000 - a lot of money but worth the investment and, when the time comes, it will sell for pretty much the same price.

The government grants for handling systems have really screwed up the market. You are forced to buy a system costing at least £8000 (OK, so you get a grant to cover part of the cost) but since everyone is applying at the same time the waiting lists will be 6 months or more. And the paperwork and rules on the grant application are simply not worth the effort IMHO.  We had the same issue with grants for hedges and fencing - stupid rules and requirements that were not matched with our needs.  Our Rappa was delivered in less than 2 weeks and we are more than satisified. Remember you can always use a portable system inside and leave it set up if you want so (almost) the best of both worlds.  The one big downside of the portable systems IMHO is that handling stage - the crush and weighing systems don't seem to be as robust and effective as our Combi-clamp and force you to use the tralier-based systems which make bring the system price closer to £10,000.

Bottom line?  It is a big investment, so do your research. Compare prices (and delivery dates) and ask as many people as possible (you will get a wide variety of views). Go to the shows, work with the systems (make sure someone shows you how to take it apart and assemble it again!). Decide what features and capabilities are important to you and tailor the system to meet your needs and it becomes a more justifiable investment.

Badger Nadgers

  • Joined Mar 2013
  • Derbyshire/North Staffs
  • Teeswater & Hebridean
Re: handling system recomendations
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2022, 09:58:39 am »
Hello, I'd like to suggest an alternative.  What you go with is up to you, of course.

I wouldn't go with a race, but with a series of gradually reducing pens.

Here's my thinking.  A race isn't the right tool for the job,  They are good at larger numbers of sheep, on a regular basis, and separating out the ones you need to deal with.  The problem with a small number of sheep is normally getting them into somewhere in the first place, regardless of whether you then want to feed into a race or treat in a pen.

Work out where they naturally run and gather and build a large pen there if practical out of posts and taught stock fence.  Have within that, or add on to it, a smaller pen similarly designed, and probably a third one.  Gradually reduce their space and escape routes.  Use old hurdles as gates.    Feed them in there, and when they are used to it and you've got a layout that works, starting with the outer/larger pen, replace the sides with tin sheets and use proper gates. With larger numbers, put hardcore or similar down.

With a run, you'll either need to risk it being left out and stolen/subject to weather, or find somewhere to store one and have the faff or setup and take down. 

25 or even 50 sheep will behave as a mob sticking together to run away from anything and everything, rather than a flock with its groupthink follow the leader.  The only way i could see a run working with small numbers of sheep is if you worked them with a dog to gather and push them through..

Steve-Pr's post is spot on. I would echo the caution over turnover crates, but an alternative of shepherds chairs are cheap, effective and portable.   It's to do with being able to constrain and restrain a sheep safely, and whilst a crush/clamp can help, I would find it hard to justify for the number of sheep the OP is talking about.  And it sounds a little strange, but it's easier to have a good luck at a sheep and get them used to being handled rather than with them clamped in a bit of kit..

It's not just in turnover crates that horns cause dificulties either - in a run, your space is very restricted, especially for vaccinations.  Small hormed sheep will be even more difficult as you'll be bent double over the sides.

I'd spend time watching and interacting with the sheep with a basic homemade pen setup, and keep the money for something else, particularly given the current cost of living issues.  £1000+ is a lot to spend on 25 sheep  even when spread over the lifetime of the kit.

« Last Edit: October 13, 2022, 10:01:55 am by Badger Nadgers »


  • Joined Mar 2019
  • North Shropshire
  • Dreamer with docile cow and sheep!
Re: handling system recomendations
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2022, 01:31:21 pm »
Back in my youth....... (Around 2003) my biggest expenditure was a brand new Ifor Williams P6e, still got, showing its age, but purchased due to the fact I bought 8 week old calves from auction without considering how to get them home (had a fiat cinqucento at the time). Also didn't understand towing limits etc but a cinqucento sporting (1.1i) CAN tow above trailer and full grown sows, shudders........ But we got there!!

Anyhow, i wanted some hurdles as we didn't have any so bought 12 at £10 each, prices were cheaper. Afterwards, we found that due to our place being wonky, hurdles didn't fit into looseboxes for lambing, so dad built them! After making around 30 of various sizes (some even slid inside themselves) he had me sign a piece of paper stating NO MORE were needed!

I have since added wheeled hay racks, but sold creep feeders and round bale feeders (sheep and cattle) as they don't fit in with us. Even sold a turnover crate, putting Dorset Downs in it and then turning it...... Nearly killed me and mum together! Still got the scales though.

But we are fortunate as in the 1980's mum (fitter then) had the buildings altered to run cattle down a narrow alley. (many a cow has calved in alley when necessary) When we went more into sheep in the 2000's, we had alterations done to the gates (mesh, extra hinges) so both types of livestock are able to be handled without changing anything (walk cow down, shut her in bottom, see to, let out of shed or put her in one of the neighbouring pens then bring sheep down!) Of course there is always the stupid sheep who shoots into same pen with cow but FRIENDLY cow is too daft to head butt stupid sheep (fortunately!)

When the grants were listed, mum said to see what we could get, but I agree with the other poster, and smallholders aren't considered, not really. My numbers aren't worth a fancy cattle crush (got an old one, hasn't been used for 20 yrs, it blocks a hole!) sheep equipment? I could do with a few more troughs and I need fence posts knocking in but jobs like that aren't covered (ground is like concrete where the posts have to go!)

I find a lot of the sheep handling equipment is aimed at those with no buildings or mental sheep. I may have a couple of nut cases (3 out of 4 now have an orange arse!) but they do follow the bucket, though 1 still refuses to follow the others into the shed. She doesn't think how I want her to think, you'd think she'd learnt by now!

My sheep numbers are currently 25 (I must be nuts, only had 12 this time last year!) and Mary, friendly cow, 1 month off from calving!
Halter train the cattle to keep them quiet but watch your back when they come a'bulling! Give them all names even those you plan to eat. Always be calm. Most importantly, invest in wellies with steel toe caps and be prepared for the clever cow who knows where the toe caps end!!


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: handling system recomendations
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2022, 06:43:13 pm »
My favourite technique, with small numbers (we have around 30 sheep including 10 lambs at this time of year) is to make permanent corrals in gateways between fields.  Then the sheep are used to running through to get to better grass, and you just pen them in the corral and use hurdles for making treatment pens or whatever you need. 
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing


  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: handling system recomendations
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2022, 11:41:27 am »
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett


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