A first-generation Victorian sheep breeder has launched a podcast aimed at informing and educating like-minded people in similar shoes.
Hallston Wiltshire Horn breeder Jill Noble, Hallston Valley, launched the Sheep Talk podcast about a month ago and the response, she says, has been phenomenal.
Subscribers across Australia have streamed the podcast which has also been listened to across 17 states in the US, as well as audiences in Russia, Canada and Nigeria.
Topics like rookie mistakes sheep breeders make and a device called Numnuts used to reduce pain during tail docking are just some of the discussions featured in the 10 podcasts to date.
Other topics have included the benefits of breeding sheep for wool and interviews with newcomers to the industry.
Ms Noble said the podcast was designed for first-generation sheep farmers and people looking to increase their understanding of breeding sheep.
"I had one listener contact me, a former stock agent in fact, suggesting I do a podcast on some of the basics that people who are going to breed sheep need to know," Ms Noble said.
"For instance the Property Identification Code or PIC number and the National Vendor Declaration and the obligations around that.
"I called the episode Agriculture Acronyms and because I have listeners in other parts of the world I researched the acronyms they used for PIC numbers and the equivalent of an NVDs and spoke about that too."
One Sheep Talk episode featured Deniliquin breeder Jason O'Loghlin who spoke about what to look for when selecting lambs or breeding ewes.
"One of the things he mentioned was looking for consistency in the line," Ms Noble said.
"Having relationships with breeders is very important because often the best way to buy sheep is to meet the breeder and see the flock so you can witness the consistency and learn about the breeder themselves."
Setting it up
The cost of establishing up The Sheep Talk podcast was minimal, Ms Noble said.
With more time on her hands during COVID-19, she undertook an online course about the basics of making a podcast which gave her a strong understanding about the dos and don'ts.
Apart from buying a lapel microphone, the rest of the setup was cheap with free software (Audacity) used to edit the podcast which is recorded in Zoom.
The podcast is hosted on a site called Buzzsprout which costs $14 a month.
About the operation
Ms Noble bought the 62-hectare South Gippsland property with her husband five years ago and has focused her attention on regenerative farming.
Initially starting with 14 ewes and some cattle, the total flock now consists of 230 head including 100 breeding ewes plus stud rams and sheep which are entered and judged in agricultural shows.
Similar to the weekly podcasts, the farm requires "low input" with a rotational grazing method used to improve and renovate pastures.
After visiting the Seymour Alternative Farming Expo for close to a decade, Ms Noble bit the bullet and bought the South Gippsland property with limited agriculture experience.
"We researched how we wanted to run the farm and the philosophy and hence running a regenerative approach with low input and really looking at soil biology to improve outputs has been interesting," she said.
Wiltshire Horns were selected as the breed of choice, grown for their meat, and renowned for the low care and easy-going nature.
The breed is known for its intramuscular fat and fine textured meat.
Show must go on
Despite the cancellation of the 2020 Royal Melbourne Show, Ms Noble is still confident the show will continue in a virtual format.
This year she was elected to The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria sheep committee less than 12 months after claiming a number of breed awards at last year's show.
The gongs included reserve champion ram and ewe in the Wiltshire Horn class as well as the best short wool ram in the interbreed section.
"It is disappointing that the show was cancelled and a lot of breeders, particularly the young ones are really impacted by it ... because they work very hard for the show," Ms Noble said.
"We've been talking about virtual shows since early March and we've done some video trials and because it will be an official competition, we do need to get those elements correct, but we're hopeful the judging will continue online."
You can download The Sheep Talk podcast for free online.
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