Being first-generation Irish American, and having grown up visiting Ireland often, I tend to have a soft spot for any news stories that come from my father's (and grandparents') home country. So when I saw an Irish company that highlighted the use of hydraulics, called EweRaise MeUp on Twitter, I had to do a little digging.
Turns out this company is a start-up from two youths, Shane Clifford and Brian Segue, who entered the Young Entrepreneur Programme, where students are charged to create a business that could help people. Clifford, who is a 17 year-old secondary school student from Colaiste na Sceilge, County Kerry, Ireland, says he plans to study mechanical engineering someday, so wanted to engineer a device that would help farmers better work with sheep.
Their idea, EweRaise MeUp, is a foot-controlled hydraulic sheep ramp that fits into a cattle crush. Instead of the farmer bending over to work with the sheep, it brings the sheep up to working level for the farmer, thus allowing the farmer to work with his sheep from a standing position, which takes the back strain out of working with sheep.
When asked why they chose hydraulics instead of a mechanical or electrical lifting mechanism, Clifford says, “We figured that anything electrical would get damp and ruined, as our project will be very exposed to the elements as it will be mainly left outdoors in a cattle crush. Our project uses a hydraulic ram to push 2 ball bearings which roll along and raise up the platform in the middle for the sheep.”
Clifford says they developed this idea to make it safer for farmers so they don’t have to enter the cattle crush with the sheep and also to prevent back strain. Having witnessed (and helped just a wee bit) in the dipping and dosing of sheep on an Irish farm about 12 years ago, I know exactly how much work it can be on an individual.
The movable structure will use a hydraulic foot pump, which raises the platform on the ramp by foot to a working height for the farmer. The ramps are made from box iron and covered with aluminum checker plate for a non-slip surface.
The structure includes a gate at either end of the raised platform, which restrains the sheep from going backwards and forwards. The sheep are secured on either side of the ramp by movable railings.
A standard platform easily holds four or more sheep at a time. As work is completed on each set of four, they are released and replaced by the next four from the flock which is restrained in the cattle crush.
Although they are just still in the design phase, Clifford says a local engineering company has already expressed interest in manufacturing the structure.