July 2012

Winter’s cold starts and short days did not deter an enthusiastic bus load of members travelling to Bendigo for the annual sheep and wool show. The long day proved to be as popular and fulfilling as it did in 2011. A number of members returned for a second look at what is new in the sheep industry.

Victoria’s 135 year-old Sheep Show was said to enjoy a new era of attracting the next generation of farmers, foodies and fashion enthusiasts, all interested in the versatile qualities of Australian sheep. It was not only sheep which produced the fleeces on display. Alpacas have an established popularity with breeders, spinners and yarn makers. This year, one of the stands informed visitors of a demand for alpaca meat.

It is understood, however, that alpacas are not yet slaughtered in Victoria but are, in one special NSW abattoir. The wool fashion parades drew the attention of some attendees. Others wandered around to spectate sheep judging, shearing competitions, sheep dog trials and demonstrations of new machinery. Shearing and general yard management of sheep create occupational risks.

The inventiveness of farmers who design equipment to protect handlers from injury was admired. It was apparent that this year’s good wool prices and increased demand for quality breeding stock will see investment in new labour saving purchases. In the main ring, the ongoing competition among sheep dog trainers was almost addictive. A record 250 dogs competed over five days. Fortunately, the specific rules of sheep dog trials were explained. It was thus easy to see why just one dog observed, Spot from Tasmania, delighted the crowd and confirmed her handler’s faith in this very professional border collie cross.

WOFWG’s August activity is a visit to a mobile animal farm at Gembrook.

Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms. The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women. There is no need to be actively farming to participate. For more details contact secretary, Jenny Stephenson on 9700 0282 or visit our website at www.womenonfarms.org for the 2012 monthly program.

For enquiries about this article, contact: Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.