The ultra-successful push by Australian woolgrowers to breed bigger sheep has caused backaches for shearers.
Shearers say it has made their profession a less appealing option for those considering a career alongside them.
Their backache has morphed into a headache for growers already struggling to find shearers.
The industry's research arm at Australian Wool Innovation reckons it has found the solution to a large part of the problem - catching and dragging these weighty animals from their shearing shed pen.
It is a sheep race built inside the woolshed to take that physically demanding chore out of the shearing equation.
Woolshed design has been trying to keep pace beyond the revolutionary spring-loaded back brace and raised floors.
A new modular race delivery system is being taken beyond the prototype stage into full development with support from AWI.
Modules have been developed for ease of storage - one design employs a manual method for delivery to the shearer, the other is more elaborate with a pneumatically-powered delivery cage.
Shearing contractors who have trialled the new invention are already converts to its labour-saving promise.
AWI is working with six engineering companies to take the AWI led design and make them commercially available to growers.
AWI chairman Jock Laurie says extensive work continues to tackle the challenge around shearing.
"Shearing is the number one issue facing many growers and AWI is doubling down on efforts to tackle the problem," Mr Laurie said.
AWI revealed it was working with six engineering companies to fully develop the modular races.
They are: Haynes Engineering (Naracoorte SA), Proway Livestock Equipment (Bomen, NSW), Stockpro (Condobolin, NSW), Kyabram Steel (Kyabram, Vic), Commander AG-Quip (Albany, WA) and RW Engineering (Darkan,WA).
AWI says interested growers are either looking to retrofit or construct a new shed incorporating the system to reduce costs in upgrading, utilising or replacing older infrastructure.
The WA government has already tipped $45,000 into the AWI's development of the race.
The plan is to further develop the design with a WA manufacturer with matching funding from AWI.
That funding is now being used to engage with RW Engineering and developments are underway to innovate the design and uptake of the Race Delivery System.
In September last year, at Dennis Gleeson's Colligen Creek at Wakool in NSW used five stands loaned from AWI (four manual and one pneumatic) to complete shearing.
About 10,000 ewes were shorn in the system, with some slight modifications to the existing shed to provide access into the units.
"Contractor sentiment was high, and they expressed without the units it would not be feasible to continue shearing excessively sized sheep of due to the increased risk of injur," AWI said.
Mr Gleeson is now building the system into his existing shed and removing the catching pens.
In October, Jarrod King from Warralea Merino Stud at Gairdner in WA held an on-farm "innovation day" with AWI support,
About 60 growers saw how the new race system was incorporated into an existing shed.
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And late last year, Banyandah Pastoral Co. in the Riverina was struggling with district flooding.
Ian, Camilla and Will Shippen from Banyandah had half of their usual sheds operational.
AWI supplied five modules and several more were sourced from Haynes Engineering.
The Shippen's converted an existing hay shed into a "shearing shed" by pouring a concrete slab, running power, adapting and building existing yards to complement the race system.
They have since shorn about 15,000-20,000 sheep through the system and have confirmed their intention to permanent adopt the modules.