Meet Australian cattle & sheep farmers, discover 100 research projects and learn more about what is important to the sustainability of the industry

Bondi Lifeguard starts up a Sustainable Sheep Farm

Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool? Yes sir! Yes sir! Three bags full.

Thank you nursery rhyme for confusing a generation. No harm done, people just believe that if you’re a sheep, then ya’ll be producing wool for jumpers. Not always the case. And plus, wool is more than just jumpers, it's high fashun now. The internet says so.

In this video we introduce….the Dorper. One of the many sheep breeds in Australia that doesn’t actually grow usable wool, and thus do not require shearing. 

These guys are hardcore. They’ll live basically anywhere and eat virtually anything. And they just go about dropin’ their fleece like it’s hot. It just falls off them, onto the ground. And before you ask…no, farmers aren’t scurrying around the farm picking up the wool. Their fleece is a mix of hair and wool, and compared to Merinos, the Lindt Chocolate of wool producing sheep, a Dorper fleece is like those cheap Easter eggs that stick to the roof of your mouth – it’s not that great. So, it’s left on the ground where it breaks down into the soil over time.

For farmers, understanding their land type and the kind of livestock that it can support is critical to running a sustainable farm. As we learnt last week, not all livestock can live just anywhere. A number of factors need to be considered, including climate and the type of stock that the land can sustainably support e.g. cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens etc.

Australia has very different land types. For example...

This farm:

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is very different to this farm:

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In the case of the Robertson family, there was not enough quality feed in a particular paddock to support larger livestock, such as cattle. They found that Dorpers, a tougher breed of sheep, really thrived and were able to eat some plants that cattle wouldn’t.  

But wait you say. An animal is an animal. Surely those sheep are having the worst time of their life in this ‘tough’ paddock. If cattle would be hungry there, surely the sheep would be too?

I’d like to reference the mountain goat, who creeps around on the cold snowy mountain, living out its life.

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Image credit - www.wildrepublic.com

What is it eating? I. Don’t. Know. But it’s having the time of its life. Cue the Dorper. This guy doesn’t dream of green lush pasture, its chasing the beef jerky of grass. And while sometimes that ‘grass’ might not look like the green grass you and I know, it’s a pasture that some livestock are able to thrive off.

If you want to learn more about wool production, head over to www.wool.com. If you want to learn more about how farmers manage their soil and pasture, take a look here.

And as always, if you have any questions just head over to our Facebook page and we’ll answer them as best we can.