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Clean boots and happy bobby calves

Clean boots and happy bobby calves
The Oroua Bobby Loader and Yuk-Off boot cleaner have proved a hit for Feilding inventor and former farmer Ivan Wildbore.

Ivan Wildbore may have been off the farm for the past 25 years but he continues to have an impact on the industry by way of inventions.

The Kiwi ingenuity that is part and parcel with being a farmer has clearly never left him. Ivan was farming for 45 years on his parents’ dairy farm before they sold up. He now resides in the township of Fielding.

“When I was on the farm I was always thinking of ways I could improve things or I was wondering what would be an easier way.”

Ivan is an ideas man, he always has been and though admittedly not all of his ideas have taken off, he’s managed to make quite the name for himself with a couple of stand outs. In 2016, he did a bit of work for a transport company.

During that time, footage of horrific bobby calf abuse from a few bad apples was making its way through the media showing calves being thrown onto trucks, dragged by their limbs and dumped on the ground.

Always with an ear to the ground, Ivan heard chatter among fellow drivers and farmers about what needed to be done to stop the abuse and make it easier on all those involved in transportation of bobby calves.

Ivan set to work creating the Oroua Bobby Loader. The design didn’t happen overnight. Ivan spent weeks asking around different farmers and truck drivers what they needed and what they would use.

“You couldn’t just go out and make one and say ‘this is what you’re going to use’, there was a lot of input from all over New Zealand.”

As a result, Ivan has created a 1.1 metre high crate that holds up to 25 calves, allowing the animals to walk directly onto the truck without being lifted or having to stumble up a ramp.

The loader is complete with two gates, two walls and a roof that are clad in corrugated iron for shelter. The wooden floor is non-slip and easy to clean and the truck can back straight up to it with ease.

The Oroua Bobby Loader meets government regulations and has been a hit with farmers, but Ivan hasn’t stopped there and has proven he’s not a one hit wonder.

Instead, the bobby loader inspired a new idea – the Yuk-off boot cleaner. The concept is simple and it makes you wonder how you ever got on without it.

It’s a portable cleaner that attaches to a hose, squirting water through three, hard-bristle brushes to remove contaminants from both the sides and soles of footwear.

“We developed them for the calf pen initially so the truck driver had somewhere to sanitise his boots before he stepped foot in the calf pen and then he could do it again when he left to stop the spread of contamination.”

It has continued to adapt from there. They’re now being used in forestry blocks, walkways for DOC and a lot of private walkways as well.

Contractors have created their own water tanks and are hooking them up to their tractors to keep the interiors clean, and many farming homemakers can breathe a sigh of relief with a boot-cleaner at the front door.

“We wanted something simple and easy to use and it works very well, you just need a supply of water. It doesn’t need to be high pressure; you don’t need a lot of water at all.”

Ivan even has one at his front door. With two successful inventions under his belt, Ivan is looking to make it a hat trick with something new in the pipelines.

“We are working on something at the moment, a big project that we hope to have released next year.” Giving away no secrets, we will have to watch this space.

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