ADVERTISER CONTENT: For the best part of 20 years now, the Combi Clamp sheep handler has been a favourite among producers who have had first-hand experience with it.
Starting out as a piece of equipment to ease dagging sheep on his New Zealand property, Wayne Coffey's handler has grown in popularity and is now distributed to a number of countries around the world.
Mr Coffey developed the first Combi Clamp just for his own operation's needs.
But after other producers had a go with it, there was instant demand.
Built primarily for dagging sheep pre-shearing in 2000, Mr Coffey then began using it for mouthing old ewes and drench capsules as they came into fashion, and it worked.
Mr Coffey, along with his wife Lynley and daughter Fiona Quarrie, have worked hard on the development of the Combi Clamp to make it an effective machine for many different uses.
Over the next couple of years they began using it for all aspects of animal husbandry.
"We actually surprised ourselves - not only for ease of use but on the spread of what we could use it for too," Mr Coffey said.
"In 2002, we named it the Combi Clamp over a couple of beers with close friends who convinced us it was a saleable product.
"We had no intention to sell this at its first conception.
"Neighbours who borrowed it wanted one!"
Mr Coffey believes the Combi Clamp has one distinct advantage over its rival machines.
The main point of difference is that it requires no power generators or compressors.
It is not the lack of power which stands the Combi Clamp out from the pack, but the lack of noise and commotion.
"Sheep tend to move away from noise and that's how we get them out of the paddock in New Zealand," Mr Coffey said.
"Managing a property running 11,000 ewes meant we had numbers to make sure it was going to be reliable.
"In the early years of selling the Combi Clamp, we relied on client feedback to confirm our own thoughts when it came to making any developmental changes.
"Today we are still looking at what the general farming community wants.
"The main reason our machine is still selling is because the people who have had them for some years now are still using them.
"This is because they are quiet and don't spook the sheep.
"Other added bonuses are that you don't need to be a rocket scientist to use them while competitors keep going further into technology to hold onto a sheep.
"This can make their sheep handler out of reach financially for the average farmer.
"Our main objective is to keep the Combi Clamp affordable."
The latest addition to the Combi Clamp is the wool classing wall.
It gives producers a good look at the side of the sheep and is equally as good for checking feet.
Mr Coffey is frequently asked by producers what the throughput figures through a Combi Clamp are.
"The numbers I hear from clients would not be believed by people who don't have a Combi Clamp," he said.
"Sale crutch on 'clean-ish' lambs is in excess of 300 head per hour.
"Farmers near on retirement are drenching 400 sheep per hour while most producers can drench between 500 and 700 an hour.
"Most Australian farmers are generally multitasking.
"This brings the hourly rate down, but they are still getting the numbers out.
"The real difference is the set-up which allows the sheep to run well."
Paul Routley bought one of the original Combi Clamp sheep handlers for his Almondvale White Suffolk Stud and has been so impressed with it he recently upgraded to a new machine.
On the 4650-hectare operation 30 kilometres from Lockhart, NSW, Almondvale run two studs with about 1300 stud Poll Merino ewes and 600 White Suffolk stud ewes.
They also have a 400-head Poll Merino-White Suffolk prime lamb operation.
"I saw the Combi Clamp years ago and liked what I saw," Mr Routley said.
"I got one because it is so simple to use with not many moving parts, which means not much can go wrong with it.
"It is very easy on the operator and very easy on the animals too.
"There is less noise with no compressors which allows the animals to run through easily because it is so quiet.
"When we have them in there, we can do a number of tasks such as weigh, tag, inject, and crutch.
"Another factor for us was operator safety, which is a key part of the Combi Clamp.
"We run a lot of sheep through ours and couldn't be happier."
The Coffeys are not content with only producing sheep handlers in Australia and are looking to diversify their business here.
"We are not very well known for our cattle handling equipment in Australia," Mr Coffey said.
"But we are well known in NZ for our real heavy duty cattle equipment.
"We don't do light duty cattle equipment as I am of the opinion that producers should buy once and buy right at an affordable price."
The Coffeys are very proud of still being a family owned and operated business and the impact they have had on producers.
"We did not know at the time what we had done for the sheep industry," Mr Coffey said.
The Combi Clamp has made life easier and kept some of the younger generation involved in farming. It's a good feeling."
- Visit: www.combiclamp.co.nz