A RANGE of specialised Italian-built poultry-handling equipment could improve productivity in the Australian industry.
The Ciemmecalabria range of equipment includes compact poultry forklifts, turkey loaders, collecting sweepers and bedding spreaders.
The company has specialised in manufacturing poultry-industry equipment since the early 1970s, according to Australian distributor, Steve Cawood of Bannockburn-based Tasktech.
"They've been making poultry-handling equipment for 39 years and a few years ago they started building the Ercolino range specifically for cleaning sheds and as forklifts for bird modules," Steve said.
Steve's son, Tyson, is in the industry and was approached about 18 months ago to harvest birds and clean sheds.
"We started looking for machines and we couldn't find a purpose-built machine.
"Everyone is using big and bulky tele-handlers or other machines that can mean safety or manoeuvrability issues in the sheds."
Tasktech has recently been demonstrating the versatile Ciemmecalabria Ercolino poultry forklift at grower sheds.
"This 4500kg machine is the first one we've bought in," Steve said.
"Fitted with the bucket it is mainly for cleaning sheds."
The machine is available in three heights, from 1.92m to 2.14m, providing clearance in all sheds.
All models have adjustable cabin heights by way of a mounting kit.
Open cabin or closed, airconditioned cab variants are available.
The compact machine's power plant is a four-cylinder 48kW Perkins diesel, so spares and parts are no issue.
The machine is also fitted with a heavy-duty engine and hydraulic cooling system including a swing-out rear fan for easy cleaning.
"No other machine has the fold-out radiator, which makes cleaning access very easy," Steve said.
"It's also got heavy-duty fins, meaning they can be pressure-washed without problems.
"It is all fitted into the machine's compact design and well-protected."
The Ercolino's width can be altered by choosing different tyre sizes, while a counterbalance is integrated and able to balance the 2.4m-wide double poultry modules used in Australia.
The Ercolino is multi-steer with four-wheel drive and steer, two-wheel steer or crab steering for tight shed applications.
"The crab steering means it can turn on a dime - almost as good as a skid steer," Steve said.
The cabin is centre mounted for better vision.
"There's a glass roof, so you are always aware of shed roof heights.
"There's no other machine in Australia with a centre-mount cabin with full 360-degree vision.
"This also has an offset steering wheel, which offers improved leg-room and good access."
The machine is standard with lighting, including blue lights for night-time poultry loading.
"There's a range of attachments, including a barrel sweeper with a curved side sweeper, meaning you can load out the shed and then quick hitch the sweeper to begin the cleaning.
"The sweeper is also self cleaning with a hydraulic dump function on it," Steve said.
A bedding or litter spreader unit for even spreading of rice hulls or wood shavings also fits the quick hitch.
Fitted with the standard 1200-litre, 2.4m bucket, the Ercolino provides high capacity and leading-edge tipping for easy truck loading, with up to 4.1m tipping height.
"When you are dumping litter into trucks, the bucket rotates or tips from the bucket's leading edge so you get full-height tipping without the bucket dipping over the truck sides.
"That also offers improved clearance of sticky materials. With the tines fitted it will lift to 3.6m high.
"This really is a multi-purpose, specialised machine compared with tele-handlers that are often used," Steve said.
The objective with poultry-shed cleaning is a quick turnaround Steve said.
"They want to load the birds, clean out the litter, wash and fumigate and spread new litter and warm the sheds for new birds all within an average six or seven day turnaround.
"This has got the features and attachments to help growers get in and out a lot quicker
" It can do the lot.
"We've only had the machine in the country for a few months and we are flat out getting out there and getting known," he said.
"But we are expecting a lot of interest."
- For more details, visit tasktech.com.au or call 0439 375 848.