Sustainability is very important for the Bird family of Windorah Farms in Wickepin WA.
"We have revegetated creek lines, finished off remnant vegetation areas and planted rows of trees in lambing paddocks that double as shelter belts for lambs and ewes to use for protection from wind and weather" says Audrey Bird
It is important for the ewes to have protection prior to and during lambing, but once born the lambs can nestle amongst the trees whilst the mothers go and graze during the day.
But sustainability is so much more than that…
"Sustainability is not just about trees in the landscape. It's about improving the soil by increasing ground cover and getting a nutrient cycle. Livestock can really help with that."
“I do love animals.”
The wellbeing of the sheep in her care on the farm is one Audrey’s core values.
Lambing is a pretty critical time for ewes and to make sure they have the best possible care, Audrey brings them into small paddocks to feed them all the nutrients they need to be in the best of health. Instead of having to walk distances for water and feed, it is all brought to them.
This rest period for the ewes (pre-lamb holiday) is also a rest period for the lambing paddocks that the ewes will move into just prior to lambing. It allows the feed to grow such that Audrey can leave the sheep undisturbed during lambing.
With this year being as wet as it has in Wickepin, Audrey has been using her drone to check for ewes, which again minimizes the disturbance at lambing time.
Audrey is also moving her flock from the traditional wrinkled merino to a plainer bodied that have low or no wrinkles.
The humble merino of old was bred to have lots of folds (or wrinkles) in their skin. This wrinkle puts the sheep at higher risk of flystrike though, as moisture gets trapped in the folds which then attracts flies who lay their eggs in the skin folds. The fly larvae then start devouring the skin.
As the new type plainer bodied merinos have few or no wrinkles, it makes them less susceptible to flystrike. It's not an overnight solution, but it is something that Audrey is working towards as it is the right thing to do.
When pain relief became available for use, Audrey was really keen to use it and they now use three types of pain relief at lamb marking to reduce that stress on the lambs at that young age. With less pain and stress, the lamb get back to their mothers and start feeding again.
For the Australian red meat industry, treating livestock humanely is critical.
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