Shepherd Auto Drafter can automatically place lambs by weight category

Without the need for additional labour The Shepherd Auto Drafter can automatically monitor and draft containment fed lambs into the right weight pens

Justin Dunn is shown here with The Shepherd Auto Drafter that automatically drafts heavier sheep from a lighter to heavier pen once the appropriate weight is reached without the need for a producer to intervene

The ability to draft feedlot or containment fed lambs into weight categories ready for processing without time spent by producers is the major benefit of The Shepherd Auto Drafter.

Temora prime lamb lot feeder Justin Dunn, is the inventor behind The Shepherd Auto Drafter, and was highly commended in the Henty Machine of the Year awards 2023.

HMFD Machine of the Year judge Warren Scheetz said the auto drafter was drawn to his attention due to its ability to automatically weigh and draft lambs in a feedlot, saving time, labour and increasing animal welfare.

“Producers want the animals to be as stress free as possible to put on the weight and The Shepherd Auto Drafter is able to eliminate much of the work for the producer as it electronically moves the animals from one pen to another once they reach a certain weight,” Warren Scheetz explained.

Jason Dunn explained how the data captured by the drafter was instantly sent back in real time to the producer’s mobile phone, with information loaded 24 hours a day.

“This unit is built by ourselves in-house at Temora NSW, everything from the software development to the steel fabrication,” Justin Dunn added.

“Henty Machinery field days was our launch so it is now ready for producers to put it practical everyday work situations – we will go through a 12-month pre-commercial deal so we can work closely with initial producers to make sure the machine settles in.

“At Temora, we have a privately run research and development unit where we hone all the equipment we sell. For the past 12 months we have had the auto drafter working in our own commercial feedlot.”

The auto drafter is installed between two pens, and as the lambs put on weight they will be drafted from the lighter lot into the heavier lot.

If the lambs haven’t reached the target weight they will not be allowed into the heavier lot, and instead will back out of the drafter and return to the lighter pen.

The auto draft is designed to weigh and draft just one animal at a time, with sensors and scales taking over the work normally done by a producer.

Justin Dunn breeds commercial Aussie White and Sheepmasters, along with finishing second cross trade lambs in his commercial feedlot.

“Skilled labour is very difficult to find in the ag sector these days and affordability of those who do have the skills is a challenge. Facing a drought, the prospect of feeding and bringing sheep into close containment where they are monitored is key,” Justin Dunn explained.

“We are developing our systems, so it is straight monitoring with low stress handling and less workflow. We are managing the glycogen levels in the animal, resulting in better carcase quality.”

The sheep passively walk onto the drafter of their own accord, attracted by a lick block.

“We found a side effect was marketing as the lambs are going into pens of particular weight groups, we know at any particular time how many sheep we have in each weight band.

“Right now, it is competitive and if a processor contract opens, we can look at our phone and know comfortably how many lambs we are prepared to book.

“We still use a traditional weighing system for onboarding sheep into the feedlot and the final draft to get the maximum number of lambs into the top of the grid.

“This particular machine is about low stress handling while they go right through the feeding process, and we are monitoring exactly how many lambs are progressing and how fast. We can graph trajectories and predict how many sheep will be ready at any particular point.”

While most of these types of drafters are air operated, the Shepherd Feedlot Auto Drafter is solar powered, and the retail price starts at $8000 and comes with complete technical support.

For more information contact the manufacturer, The Shepherd Ag Justin Dunn on mobile: 0428 771 105, or email: