Sheep Farming in Australia
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What is perhaps most unique about sheep farming is the fact that it does not take place in close proximity to urban areas. The land required to raise large amounts of sheep for profit requires that the typical sheep farmer live hundreds of miles from the nearest town. On average, sheep farms range in size from 2,500 to 5,000 square miles and these farms are generally located 150 to 300 km from their nearest neighbor.
The duties associated with sheep farming are as diverse as they are numerous. Dealing specifically with the sheep, the most common tasks include: mustering, droving, branding, tagging, shearing and injecting. When dealing more broadly with the sheep farm, the tasks of repairing fences, removing fallen trees, and growing rudimentary crops are also facets of sheep farming in rural Australia. The number of jobs available on sheep farms (or stations as they are referred to in Australia) is so numerous that many farms hire extra help during shearing season just to meet the daily functioning requirements of the farm.
One of the greatest challenges facing the sheep farmer, and more broadly any type of farming in Australia, is the lack of water available for livestock and crops. Because rural Australia is comprised mostly of desert-like land finding and securing water resources from season to season often proves quite problematic. Although Australian farmers employ the use of boreholes—large holes drilled into the ground to bring up water—the threat of drought is pervasive as rainfall in some regions of Western Australia occurs only once annually. To protect themselves from the threat of drought, farmers typically purchase 5,000 gallon tanks for storing water. This ensures that if a borehole goes dry and it is a few days before a new sources of water can be found, the farm will be able to function in the interim.