The Sheep Industry Feeding and clothing Sydney for a day sustainably
Hi, I’m Amber O’Neill and I would like to share with you what I have learnt about the Australian sheep industry through my agricultural studies at Cranebrook High School
This year Cranebrook High Schoolparticipated in the Archibull Prize .The theme was “How do you feed and clothe Sydney for a day sustainably?” We were allocated Sheep as our food or fibre industry.
There are roughly four andhalf million people living in Sydney today andeveryone of them needs to be fed and clothed and housed by agriculture. Fruit and vegetables, jumpers and blankets, meats and medicine. How do we feed Sydney?
Four and half million people! For lunch we would need to produce four and half million sandwiches. We would need four and half million cups of orange juice and four and half million apples. For ONE single meal! Imagine four and half million sausages for dinner and four and half million handfulls of vegetables. Four and half million squirts of sauce and four and half million dollops of mashed potato.Just imagine four and half million breakfast bowls full of grains and fruit. Four and half million splashes of milk and four and half million pieces of toast. For ONE single day! And that doesn’t even count those people who go for seconds!
My focus is to learn as much as I can about Australia’s sheep meat and wool production and share it with you.At school we have looked at the farm gate to plate process of many agricultural products.
Our inspiration this year was our own Dorper sheep. We were able to observe their behaviour, look at our management practices andresearch what happens through the processing stages and use all this knowledge to create our Archibull.
There are many breeds of sheep, bred to predictably pass onrecognisable recessive or dominant traits to their offspring.Such as colour, wool quality, or high milk production. Other breeds demonstrate heat tolerance, foraging capabilities or resistance to parasites. Such as Corriedale, Dorset, Dorper, Suffolk, Merino, Border Leicester, East Friesian, and Hampshire.
Fleece plays are large role in clothing Sydney and keepingeveryone warm. What would the city do on a winter’s day without a beautiful woollen jumper?Wool can be found in many different forms; whether it is inyarns or material; used for commercial production or as a hobby. Sydney would indeed be very uncomfortable indeed without Australian wool.
A high crimp fleece is betterfor spinning and a fine fleece is the most comfortable to wear. Uncontaminated fleeceattracts a premium as it costsless to clean and looks more appealing. High weighting of fleece creates more product and more money, whilst the length is better for spinning and production.
A lot of effort is put in byfarmers to produce wool for Sydney. Sheep need constant water, food and shelter. They need to be well nourished to reproduceand produce high quality wool.Worming and vaccinating must be undertaken regularly to prevent diseases and ensure sheep are in optimal health.
Fleece must be grown to guidelines (length, fineness and density) Sheep are shorn once a year. Fleece is then packaged into bales and sent to manufacturers. Here the fleece is cleaned, bleached, dyed and spun (coloured fleece is not always bleached and dyed).Spun wool is then woven and knitted to created products such as jumpers, socks, blankets, suits etc.
During October 2011, Melissa Henry, a sheep farmer from Boorowa came and talked to students about sheep meat and wool production. She told us her inspirational journey from high school to a career in agriculture that has seen her travel around the world. She explained to us the importance of sheep in feeding andclothing people and us examples of woollen and meat products.This gave me more detailed understanding of sheep and inspired more ideas to use in our Archibull Prize entry.
Sheep are not only used for their fleece, but for their meat as well. Breeds such as Dorpers (our school sheep) arebred specifically for meat, producing large carcasses.
A good cut of meat is one that is tender and juicy with lots of flavour, as you all know..Lamb is a young cut of meat, a maximum of 12 months. Once a lamb reaches 1 to 2 years of age it is knownhoggart (has a stronger flavour but slightly less tender).Anything over 2 years is called mutton (has a less tender flesh and needs slow cooking to tenderise). What makes a good cut of meat depends on age and consumer demand.
Meat Standards AustraliaMSA is a beef and lamb program which makes the purchasing of meat easy and simple for consumers.Extensive research has been undertaken todetermine the impact of factors such as management andprocessing on the eating quality of meat.
Meat Standards Australia Phone apps such as QR codes give the consumer all the information they need at their fingertips. They are able to show meats best for roasting or grilling etc.This amazing technology also gives nutritional value to consumers who can trace the life of the sheep from paddock to plate.
Other factors that can contribute to the meatwe eat includes:• Age (older the animal the less tender)• Colour (consumer preference)• Tenderness (taste and demand)• Fat content (taste)• Cut of meat (tenderness)
It takes years of breeding, planning and good nutrition to produce the best sheep meat Breeding meat sheep by cross-breeding often creates larger,bulkier sheep, with more meat and profitability for the farmer. Vaccinating, worming and general observations can optimise meat production and careful farm planning is required to maintain cash flow.
Lamb is grown to a certain age and specificcharacteristics. Farmers must follow direct guidelines in slaughtering and the welfare of sheep. Lamb is sent away to be slaughtered, cleaned, cut and packaged and then transported to supermarkets or local stores.
As you can see a lot of time, effort, planning,processing and production is put into sheep farming enterprises to feed Sydney for a day. Lets look at how we do this sustainably.
Sustainability is the process of preserving theenvironment for the future; protecting our waterways and managing our resources wisely. This helps ensure we can maintain the beauty of Australia and quality of life for future generations. .
Domesticfarm animals can damage theenvironment, but the useof sustainablepractices can minimisetheir impacts.
Managing a sheep farm requires careful planning. Hard hooved animals, such as sheep can compact soils and damage roots systems when feed is in short supply. These unsustainable practices must be managed appropriately to prevent long term damage to our precious landscapes. Livestock should be constantly rotated to prevent overgrazing. Waterways should be fenced and strict adherence to biosecurity standards should be practiced.
Rotational grazing is a process Soil compaction is the whereby livestock are process where the weight strategically moved to fresh of heavy machinery,paddocks, or partitioned pasture areas, to allow vegetation in constant movement of previously grazed pastures to large animals or regenerate. compressing of the soil, This helps to break the weed, forces out the air and pest and disease cycle water within the soil out. It also helps improve the soil The removal of air and fertility and increase organic water minimises the matter which inturn ensures growth of plants and healthy sheep meat and wool lowers production. production.
Overgrazing is the process Fencing off waterways is used where too many animals are to prevent animals access toplaced on a paddock impacting rivers, dams or waterways. on the soils and surrounding This prevents nutrient waste environment. entering the water, andLivestock rotation is a method minimising the chance of of preventing overgrazing eutrophication, algae blooms, giving pasture have time to turbidity, sedimentation and rest. overall pollution. Culling or reducing stock numbers can also minimise stress on soils.
Animal Husbandry are simply procedures used to protect and care for livestock.
Castration is the permanent removal of the testicles once they have descended into the scrotum. An elastrator is a common method used to undertake this procedure as it is efficient, quick and easy.Castration is mainly used to minimise aggression.
Crutching is the removal of fleece from around thebreech (back legs) of asheep, twice a year, to prevent flystrike. Crutching is done using a set of normal shears used when shearing.
A vaccination is delivered via an injection in order tostimulate the immune system against a disease or virus. Lambs should be vaccinated at the age of 10 weeks forclostridia disease, tetanus, malignant oedema, blackleg, pulpy kidney, blacks’ disease and cheesy gland. A follow up vaccine is given 4 to 6 weeks laterAll of these diseases can be treated with one vaccination using a 5 in 1 injection reducing stress on the sheep.
Intestinal worms areorganisms that live in the digestive systems oflivestock, consuming vital nutrients and may bring fatal consequences. Worms are prevented through drenching or worming. Symptomsinclude bottle jaw (fluid), loss of condition, weakness or scouring.
Drenching is a procedure that prevents intestinal worms in livestock. Producers use deworming chemicals to eliminate common parasites. Isolating sheep for a period of time can also stop the intestinal worm numbers increasing.Rotational grazing also help reduce worm numbers. Preventing worms is easier than curing worms.
Footrot is a bacterial disease where the hoof of a sheep becomes infected, due to constant moistness or contamination between animals. Footrot is contagious, and is best prevented by keeping pastures low and ensuring sheep hooves are not constantly moist. Isolatingsheep that have the disease willminimise further spreading andlivestock rotation will minimise infection.
Ear tagging is simply ‘ear piercing’ an animal, used to identify and track livestock. The National LivestockIdentification System is used to identify, locate and track an animal from paddock to plate.
Tail docking is thepermanent removal of an animal’s tail, to prevent flystrike.Tail docking is usuallyrecommended at 2 to 3 days old to reduce stress to the lamb. Docking can be done using a number ofmethods this includes This lamb has not surgically, using an been tail docked, emasculator or a hot this one has. electric clamp.
Sheep are hard-hooved animals that can dramatically impact the environment. Another alternative to sheep is alpaca. Alpacas have a better fleece handleand often produce more product than sheep (as they are larger). Alpacas have soft hooves, do not compact the soil and do not damage the roots of grass .Alpacas eat less food (eating only when hungry, not when food is present). Alpaca meat is only just beginning to gain popularity in Australia making them an ideal all purpose animal.
Studying sustainable agriculture at our school has provided us with vital information about the impacts of poor farming practices on the environment and the best practice principleswhich are required to ensure our agricultural land is sustainable for future generations.
Learning about the meat andfleece industry of sheep has been priceless!
WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE SPONSORS OF THE 2011 CREAM OF THE CROP COMPETITIONPLATINUM GOLD SILVER BRONZE