Alex has been in the farming industry and was involved in Young Farmers when he was young

Progressing the electric fence

by Ann van Engelen

Alex Macmillan is a beef cattle farmer and to help life on farms and lifestyle blocks be easier, he has developed a game-changing device for electric tape gateways.

“I am appreciative of the companies that created the current designs of gate tape handles, but they eventually fail for a number of reasons. I always felt there had to be a better way to operate gateways that are controlled by electric tapes,” says Alex.

“Rather than complaining, I designed a bullet-proof model — based on my observations over the decades of my farming career to helping advance the industry. My sturdy gateway hinge spring uses marine-grade stainless steel, which won’t rust and is the first of its kind in New Zealand.”

The 81-year-old was a member of NZ Young Farmers in the 1950s and has decided to donate a portion of all sale proceeds to the organisation.

“In the early 1960s, I got a job working for the Milk Marketing Board in the United Kingdom as an artificial insemination technician and was the youngest technician they ever employed. When I returned home, I spent more than four decades working for the Livestock Improvement Corporation as an AI technician. One of my biggest days involved inseminating cows in 29 herds, and I travelled more than 209km that day.

“I was a former Patumahoe Young Farmers club member, and the thing I remember most fondly were the interclub debates. There was some fierce competition in our area. It is a great way to expand your knowledge, share ideas and socialise. We enjoyed getting off-farm on for various activities and knew our way around a dance floor regularly attending Saturday night dances in local halls.

“It was fun, and people need to do it now days too for time out and get away from it all.

“I want to support NZ Young Farmers and help the next generation reach their goals. The organisation helps to nurture young people, and I personally received immense benefits from being a member when I was young.

“A number of my devices will be installed in the near future at the Auckland dairy farm gifted to NZ Young Farmers by the late Donald Pearson. We have also had considerable interest from farmers in coastal areas who are tired of replacing their current gate components every couple of years due to rust.”

The Lomacs gateway hinge spring will solve this problem and other issues. The unique gateway hinge spring is being marketed by Lomacs New Zealand.

“Dad’s invention is permanently mounted on a post and all of the componentry, apart from the plastic anchor, is marine-grade stainless steel.

It should last a lifetime and save money, frustration and broken gateways along the way,” said Alex’s son Michael Macmillan, a director of Lomacs New Zealand.

“He has dedicated his life to the agriculture sector, and this product is different from anything else on the market. It is a significant cost when every three to four years you are replacing the current product. It is more environmentally friendly with no plastic in the mechanism.

“The swivel design allows it to move from side to side — essentially eliminating damage. It gives a consistent spring compression on the tape attachment every time so it shouldn’t stretch beyond the barrel. The barrel is protected from contamination such as mud, organic matter and water and being permanently attached removes the risk of someone running over the unit. More information can be found on our website.

“Dad’s invention has been selected as a finalist in the NZ Best Design Awards, and I am looking forward to hitting the road to attend NZYF club meetings to discuss and promote my father’s invention.”