Is there a saving in drenching tech?

Sheep,In,Farm,Yard

With the livestock game turning some strong profits in the last few years, there has been a proliferation of new sheep handlers and scales. Some of the new gear comes with potential cost saving devices, here we take a look at the economics of automatic drench guns

Automatic drench guns have been around for a while, and the theory is pretty simple.  As sheep are being weighed through a handler or a crate, the indicator tells the electronic gun how much drench to give the animal, based on the animals liveweight.

Traditionally drench doses have been based on the heaviest animal, and this is often a guess.  This results in light animals receiving much more than required, and the heaviest animals, in some cases, being underdosed.

The price of everything is going up, and drench is one of them, so it is worth taking a look at what saving might be available.

Figure 1 shows a histogram of weights of 317 crossbred ewes. It’s a nice statistical bell curve, with most sheep weighing between 54 and 84 kilograms.  The heaviest ewe is 104 kilograms, so traditionally all would be drenched to this weight. 

For this example we’ll use a dose rate of 1ml for every 10 kilograms liveweight, which would mean a dose of 21ml.  The total drench used would be 3.29 litres.  A ‘cheap’ levamisole or dual drench will cost $20/litre, so the total cost for the mob is $66, or an average of 21¢/head.

If the mob is drench as per individual weights, the total drench used is 2.22 litres, for a cost of $44 for the mob, or 14¢/head.

It might be in using break drenches where the real benefit of the weighing technologies come in.  Zolvix costs around $210 per litre, and Startect $110 per litre, but is used at double the dose.

If we run the same analysis, the cost of drenching the 317 head mob comes in at around $660, or $2.08 per head drenching for the top weight.  If dosing for actual weights the cost is $444 or $1.4 per head.

What does it mean?

A Tepari ‘Revolution Dosing Gun’ starts at $1,500.   If you’ve already got the handling setup and using expensive drench, and drenching sheep with a large weight variation, payback on the gun would be on 2200 sheep.  

If you have to buy a handler to go with the gun, at $20,000 plus, it’s obviously going to take a lot more sheep to get a return, if you don’t include all the other benefits of the handler. 

Have any questions or comments?

We love to hear from you!

Print This Post

Key Points

  • New technologies allow for automatic precise dosing of sheep using scales and a drench gun.
  • Savings of drench are significant if the mob has a wide weight range.
  • If using expensive drench, automatic drench guns make some sense.

Click on figure to expand

Data sources: MLA

Make decisions with confidence- ask about our board packs, bespoke forecasting and risk management services

Have any questions or comments?

We love to hear from you!

Want market insights delivered straight to your inbox?

Sign up to the mailing list to get regular updates to new analysis and market outlooks

Independent analysis and outlook for wool, livestock and grain markets delivered to you as it’s published

Commodity conversations podcast cover image, a illustration of a sheep standing on a cow's back with grain either side
Listen to the podcast

Join the Mecardo team for the Commodity Conversations podcast, where we provide short weekly market recaps and longer conversations with guests to discuss the drivers and trends in livestock, grain and fibre markets.

Photo of a farmer surrounded by Merino sheep in dusty yards
Research: Analysis of the Australian sheep flock

In this report for LiveCorp and MLA, we analysed the historical trends in the demographics of the Australian sheep flock, examining domestic factors that influence farm-level enterprise decision making. 

Image of harvested grain pouring into a chaser bin
SERVICES AND CAPABILITIES STATEMENT BROCHURE

We don’t just bring you the most up to date market insights. Find out more about Mecardo’s services including risk management advisory, modelling, benchmarking, research & consultancy.