Cheap and effective…look at this farmer’s inventive way of making individual pens

On a recent visit to a sheep farmer in Co. Cavan – that recently converted from a suckler enterprise – AgriLand noticed that the shed was nearly ready for the lambing season.

In the passageway beside the pens were a bunch of plastic and wooden pallets and some gates. Together, with his father, they came up with the idea of using the three materials and making individual pens from them.

The majority of sheep farmers have standard individual gates set up in their sheep shed. However, this idea saved money at a time when the father-and-son team are just getting set up.

The pens are set up in a way that the wooden pallets form a line down the middle of the shed, and either side of them are individual pens.

In between each pen is a plastic pallet. Furthermore, another plastic pallet is placed on the ground. The idea around this was when the pens are bedded with straw that the animal faeces will drain away – keeping the straw relatively dry.

The hope is that this will reduce the amount of straw being used up during the lambing period; therefore, reducing the costs on the farm.

At the front of the pen, on the side of the pallet, is a gate hanger that the metal gate will lock into. Although the lifespan of the timber and plastic pallets may be short; it still gives farmers a short-term option of setting up individual pens.

Recently, a substantial amount of money was invested in fencing the land. Therefore, the father-and-son team had to come up with ways of reducing their costs in other areas around the farm.

Individual pens

It might be at the back of most farmers’ minds, but setting up individual pens now will save time come next spring.

The best place to locate individual pens is near the entrance of the building. This will make it easy to turn the ewe and her lambs out of the shed.

According to Teagasc, one individual pen should be allocated between six ewes over the lambing period. The dimensions of an individual pen should be 1.5m long and 1.5m wide.