]DETAILS big and small were the focus of a shearing shed tour of the Broomehill, Kojonup, Frankland and Tambellup districts in early July, co-ordinated by shearing industry stalwart Don Boyle in conjunction with Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and its WA-based grower group The Sheep's Back.
The level of interest in the tour demonstrated long-term confidence in the wool and sheep industries here in WA, with nearly 50 attendees taking notes, asking questions and getting up close and personal with the minute details of the five sheds that were opened up for inspection as part of the tour.
Most were interested in finding options for revamping existing structures, although judging by the amount of interest, it's safe to say there will likely be even more new shearing sheds and sheep related infrastructure on show in districts across the Great Southern in the future.
Mr Boyle was in his element, showing off the various features -good and bad - of the shearing sheds on show with people asking each of the shed owners what they liked about their sheds and what they'd do differently if they had another chance to build a shed.
"It was a fantastic turn out for the tour and I'm delighted people have been so interested to see where they can improve, what changes they can offer to provide more comfort to their shearing teams and also get a few cheap tips for small but efficient changes," Mr Boyle said.
There were plenty of small examples throughout the day which make a big difference for a positive working environment.
"There are so many small considerations that can make a big difference to the comfort levels of staff which trickles down to the care taken in their work," Mr Boyle said.
"Happy workers mean a job well done."
Thinking about the little comforts can be factors that keep a good team coming back year after year.
"It's common sense sort of stuff," he said.
"If a team knows there'll be a working toilet, clean work space and other amenities like that, they're more likely to choose your job over a place where those sorts of things aren't thought about."
Mr Boyle, a long-time shearing contractor, was able to point out the small and often overlooked factors which were an easy fix yet can make a big difference to a team.
"Things like rounded off edges on the gate doors of one of the sheds we went to see would make it less likely a shearer will catch themselves on a sharp corner and that's a quick and easy fix," he said.
"Another place we went to cleaned their boards before the shearing team arrives.
"That way, they've got a clean workspace which is certainly appreciated by the teams and it flows through to the quality of the clip presentation.
"So there are plenty of small things that farmers can do to make the shearing teams more likely to enjoy working at their places."
There were other factors highlighted which are slightly more costly to implement but were highlighted on merit, such as a 'straight drag' layout at one of the sheds which meant shearers weren't twisting their bodies before starting work and a cutaway design at the opening of the chute making it easier to move stock along.
"Those sort of design considerations reduce the chances of injuries and streamlines the work," Mr Boyle said.
Wider grating in shed floors was highlighted as a stress reliever for sheep and a sloped floor in the catching pens was identified as another positive design which makes the day easier for the shearing teams, while the pros and cons of the various board layouts on show throughout the day were discussed.
AWI representative Henry Ridge said the tour was a great initiative and gave producers the opportunity to see what options and ideas are out there.
"You never know what's out there until you go and have a look so this was a great chance for farmers," Mr Ridge said.
"The tour had a good diverse range of sheds for attendees to inspect and the more ideas and options, the better.
"There was a lot of interaction between the attendees and shed owners which was great."
Mr Ridge said in the Eastern States there was a bit of new infrastructure going up in the sheep space, much like there has been in WA, indicating a national realisation of the value of investing in the sheep and wool industries.