by Chris Tobin
Waimate High School is establishing its own sheep stud as part of a pilot programme.
A mob of 11 ewes was brought to the school last week and is being kept on an allotment of land near the school grounds in the first step of getting a Corriedale stud up and running.
“It makes education live and real,”Stuart Albrey, the school’s agriculture teacher, said.
“A lot of our kids are hands-on kids and they can relate to it.
“It’s a way to develop key competencies.
The plan developed after Mr Albrey met Corriedale breeder Tom Burrows at the Canterbury A&P Show.
Mr Burrows, a farmer at Horrellville near Oxford, is a member of the New Zealand Corriedale Society and travels to Australia to judge at Corriedale shows.
He told Mr Albrey that at last year’s Corriedale conference in Bendigo, six Australian schools were showing about 100 sheep and the Corriedale society wanted to establish a similar sheep-in-schools programme in New Zealand.
Mr Albrey said he was keen and, after gaining approval from the Waimate board, it was all on for the Corriedale society’s pilot programme.
The society had hoped to supply five Corriedale ewes to start a stud but it exceeded that number with 11 in-lamb ewes being given to the school from some of the South Island’s leading Corriedale studs.
The sheep have come from three Sidey families at Hawarden and Amberley; John Booker at Kekerengu, north of Kaikoura; Robin Wilson, of West Melton; Alistair Studholme, of Ashburton; James Hoban, Waipara; and Neville Moorhead, of Leeston.
“We’re lucky the genetic base of what we’ve been given is good,” Mr Albrey said.
“The society is also paying to register the stud and there is no cost to the school.
“I think there’s no reason why it can’t grow to be a flock of 100 ewes and that it ends up being self-sustaining and profit-driven.
“We’re also intending to show a couple of sheep at the Christchurch show and start the whole presentation side of things.”
Plans have been prepared to develop a farmlet at the school on land around the playing fields. Various businesses have contributed to the project.
“We want it to be a community as well as a school project,” Mr Albrey said.