Human domestication of wild animals began with the dog more than 12,000 years ago and sheep and other livestock followed soon after. Over millennia, various sheep breeds have been developed across the world in response to local conditions and selective breeding. How many sheep in Australia in 2010? Farmers fatten them up. There were just 70 on board. Sheep like to be with other sheep, so they naturally gather in groups. Lambs are born in spring. A newly shorn fleece being tossed onto the wool classing table ©Getty Images. ABN 70 592 297 967  |  The National Museum of Australia is an Australian Government Agency, The Untold Stories of Cook and the First Australians, Media launch for 'Chris' the sheep's record-breaking fleece. The wool industry has been an integral part of the Australian economy for 200 years, but has experienced a series of boom and bust cycles. In 1807 the Macarthurs sent the first bale of Australian wool to England for sale. He kept his merino flock segregated, allowing them to breed only with one another. After this date, limited numbers of the renowned Escorial flock were sent to breeders in other countries and closely monitored. The sheep came from a flock originally given to Prince William of Orange in the Netherlands by King Carlos III of Spain. Lawson Crescent Acton Peninsula, CanberraDaily 9am–5pm, closed Christmas Day Freecall: 1800 026 132, Museum Cafe9am–4pm, weekdays9am–4.30pm, weekends. Their wool was finer, more densely crimped, cleaner, more elastic and stronger, and thus better suited to the expanding woollen textile industry in Europe. Farmers have to check their animals to make sure none are sick or injured, and if they are, they must be treated and perhaps a vet may called in to do this. Settled merinos (estantes) had coarser wool in response to the harsher weather conditions they endured in winter, while the transient merinos (transhumantes) were moved to seasonal pastures throughout the year and so developed finer, softer wool. Unlike earlier breeds, this Spanish variety was much better suited to the Australian environment and was a formidable wool producer. However, during the First World War the industry received a boost when the British Government bought Australian wool at favourable fixed rates. Australia is now the number one producer of fine wool. Some breeds (kinds) of sheep have better wool for making into fabric or knitting yarn. They curve outwards. A fleece is thrown onto a special table in the shearing shed, that has a top of slats or wire. Sheep dogs help the farmer round up the sheep and get them into trucks. All shearing used to be done by hand with clippers, but now there are electric shears used when large numbers of sheep are sheared. By the late 19th century, wool was Australia’s main export. By lobbying influential administrators, Macarthur was also able to secure extensive land grants for merino farming. A male sheep is a ram, a female is a ewe (say you), a young one is a lamb. Glass-fronted wooden box, displaying a wool sample. Some breeds of sheep have no horns. The Merino was first introduced into Australia in 1797 and has over the years developed for wool production. Gordon’s wife inherited the sheep after his death, and sold them for £4 per head to Waterhouse and Kent. The first sheep in Australia were brought here with the first fleet in 1788. G Day and J Jessup (eds), The History of the Australian Merino, Heinemann, Melbourne, 1984. Sheep can see almost completely around themselves without turning their heads. John Macarthur was absent from the colony for extended periods of time — from late 1801 to mid-1805, and from 1809 until 1817 — defending charges of misconduct in England and avoiding arrest in Sydney. Painted on a wooden banner at the top of the box: "A. LUCIAN FAITHFULL. Flock numbers decreased by almost half to 54 million during the devastating Federation Drought (1895–1902) and sheep numbers would not return to their pre-drought levels until 1926. The mass introduction of synthetic fibres in the second half of the 20th century greatly affected the industry, and by 1970–71 wool represented only 15 per cent of Australia’s total agricultural production. The Spanish monarchy owned one of the finest flocks of transient merinos in Spain and tightly controlled access to the breed. Merino sheep in … This produced larger, more robust sheep that could yield up to 10 times more fleece than the original Spanish variety. We are an Australian approved and licensed livestock exporter with extensive knowledge in … One twin lamb suckling milk from its mother. There are about 74 million sheep in Australia. Appointed Paymaster of the NSW Corps and Inspector of Public Works, Macarthur controlled much of the colony’s resources and had unrestricted access to convict labour. Sheep are very hardy animals that can live in many places in many kinds of weather. Year Book Australia, 2003: ‘The wool industry —  looking back and forward’ Australian Bureau of Statistics. The Macarthurs worked together to expand their pure merino flock, breeding more than 4000 by 1803. Australia’s first sheep The first sheep in Australia arrived with the First Fleet in 1788. This increased the quality of their wool and the number of merino bloodlines available in the colony. Sheep grow thick fur called wool that grows continuously like your hair does. In later years, at their Camden Park stud, the Macarthurs bred their flock with other merinos from around the world to ensure their sheep remained healthy. ©Getty Images. Gordon returned the original breeding animals in 1791 when ordered to do so by the Dutch government, but kept their offspring. 1797: Introduction of the merino sheep to Australia. Charles Massey, Breaking the Sheep’s Back: The Shocking True Story of the Decline and Fall of the Australian Wool Industry, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, Queensland, 2011. People go to butcher shops or supermarkets to buy the meat. When Waterhouse returned to England in 1800, William Cox bought most of the flock from him, including several of the original sheep from the Cape. Sheep were once wild animals, but were tamed thousands of years ago by humans for their wool, meat, hides and fat. Handwritten on a piece of card below this is: "ENTERPRISE / SAMPLE 195". Some kinds of sheep have coloured fleece. Although many in Australia and Britain regarded him as a rogue, Macarthur worked hard to start Australia’s wool industry. On each foot a sheep has a hoof split into two toes. In 1789, the Prince had sent two rams and four ewes to the warmer Dutch colony at the Cape of Good Hope to be cared for by Colonel Robert Jacob Gordon. Australia has the most sheep of any country after China. Fine wool sheep do better in cold climates but need intensive management. Wool is cut once a year. Brian Evesson, ‘The foundation of Australia’s fine wool industry’ in History, June 2000. Sheepdogs move sheep to where the farmer tells them. Recent books written together include Using the Library 1, 2 & 3; Thinking Through Themes (4 titles: Air, Fire, Water, Earth); and The Perfect School Project, published by and available at Teaching Solutions. Wool can also be spun by hand, using a spindle or a spinning wheel. In 1950–51 the gross value of wool production made up 56 per cent of the total value of all agricultural industry production. The wool is cut close to the sheep's skin, and comes off in one piece. Bad weather nearly doubled their expected time at sea, and more than half the sheep perished. Level 15, 233 Castlereagh Street Sydney NSW 2000 Telephone: +612 9394 7600 Facsimile: +612 9394 7601 E-mail:, Except as permitted under the Act (for example for the services of the Crown or in reliance on one of the fair dealing exceptions i.e. Our team are highly experienced in the supplying and exporting of Sheep. These are ancient ways of spinning that many people still do. Captain Henry Waterhouse and Lieutenant William Kent brought the first flock of 26 merinos from the Cape of Good Hope to Port Jackson in 1797. kidcyber provides links to other web pages, selected and examined for their appropriateness, to provide more information about a particular topic. During this time, Elizabeth and John’s nephew Hannibal developed and managed the flock and wool production. The first sheep in Australia arrived with the First Fleet in 1788. This is called shearing, and people who do it are called shearers. Dorpers are one breed of sheep raised for meat. Waterhouse refused the offer and grazed his sheep at The Vineyard, a 140-acre property on the Parramatta River he had bought on his return from the Cape. kidcyber has no control over the information at these sites or links made from them to others sites, which might be considered inappropriate by some people. It was fortuitous that the production and export of Macarthur’s Australian wool took place when the British Government was looking for a dependable supply during the ongoing Napoleonic wars in Europe. Sheep are farmed for wool  or meat or milk. All inquiries should be made to the copyright owner at, Read the kidcyber page about wool. The first merino sheep were introduced into Australia in 1797. Its uses and its properties. Some rams have horns. The predominant breed of sheep in Australia is the Merino. In factories, the wool is washed, spun into threads called yarn and dyed into lots of colours.

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