Neil Fell

N R Fell Mobile Sheep Dipping,

Sponsored by: Kuhn

Since 2014 Neil Fell of N. R. Fell Mobile Sheep Dipping has been contract dipping sheep across the UK. Key to the business’ success and contributing to the workload that sees more than 350,000 sheep dipped each year are Mr Fell’s hydraulic dippers, designed by himself.

The business now operates three custom-built mobile sheep dippers, in addition to a conventional plunge dipper, all of which are mounted onto lorries.

Mr Fell says the cases and seriousness of sheep scab in the UK is on the rise and the most effective way of dealing with the problem is effective dipping using organophosphates (OPs) to kill ectoparasites on the sheep.

The idea behind his novel approach to dipping was a trip to a local chip shop after a day’s dipping. Watching the chips being lowered into the fryer triggered the thought process and the first hydraulic cage dipper was created.

He says the process is far less stressful to both the sheep and employees involved, with less chance of exposure to OP than traditional methods.

Hourly work rates depend on the size of the sheep; 25 lambs can fit in the cage, while on continental ewes, 14 are dipped at a time. Work rates of between 300-400/hour are achievable, with the sheep standing in the solution for a minute and being fully submerged up to four times.

Mr Fell says he takes a very serious approach to staff safety, with little room for error when working with chemicals. Full personal protective equipment is supplied as is breathing apparatus.

Roughly 250 customers across the UK are on the books, with 5-8 per cent growth in customers each year. The business has recently signed a partnership with Synergy Farm Health to offer a more proactive service in the South West.

Mr Fell says the problem of sheep scab is not going away any time soon, but the best way of getting on top of it is through dipping. Where as when he started out, June to November were the busiest months, bar a lull over lambing, his wagons are out year-round. He anticipates the workload to rise to over one million sheep in the next 10 years.

What the judges said: 

Neil is demonstrating a responsible, professional approach to mobile sheep dipping, driving forward high welfare standards, whilst ensuring the environment and staff working alongside the sheep are properly protected with his innovative machine. 

On winning, Neil and Sarah said:

“It feels absolutely fantastic to win this award,” he said. 

He described innovation in agriculture as ‘critical’. 

“The machine that we have is ideal for reducing stress on animals and welfare of the people using it as well,” he said.  

“It feels good to be among so many like minded people in the industry, with the same ambition and goals. It’s fantastic.” 

He added Jeremy Clarkson was a brilliant ambassador for farming.