Another inspiring young Australian chooses to produce food and fibre for the world.
My name is Lauren Crothers and I am crazy about sheep. I even know how to shear them
I bet if you knew just how impressive our wool industry is you would be just as proud of Australia’s sheep as I am
Australia supplies almost 90% of the wool used in the global apparel market and produces more than a quarter of the world’s wool. Approximately 24% of wool produced belongs to cross-bred sheep with the other 76% belonging to merinos. Australian merino wool is especially suited to apparel end-use due to it fine texture and clean, white appearance. Check out what our clever Australian designers do with our magnificent wool here
“It’s an important initiative to remind us of the wonders of wool. The natural fibre that looks beautiful, feels beautiful, that breathes and cools, that flexes with our bodies, heats and insulates and is environmentally sound.” – Governor General, Quentin Bryce
There are around 55,000 woolgrowers spread right across Australia, who pay wool levies and as you can see I’m very proud to be one of them!
Lauren and her dad in the shearing shed
I grew up on the family property at Dirranbandi located in South West Queensland. “Booligar” is a mixed farming and grazing property, however in recent years the business has been leaning more towards the farming side. The property is 24 000 acres and when I was younger consisted of commercial self-replacing merinos, breeding cattle, irrigated cotton and wheat. When Dad and my Uncle decided that it was more economical to grow irrigated cotton, the sheep side of the business was let go, much to my disappointment.
This however didn’t stop me; I was constantly visiting my Uncle and Aunt’s property at Tara where I could always be found following a mob of sheep or helping in the yards. Shearing time was my favourite, where the smell of lanolin drifted around the shed and embedded into my clothes. This is where I believe my love for the sheep and wool industry started.
At the age of twelve I was trucked off to boarding school on the Gold Coast, whereby I learnt numerous skills, however it wasn’t really my cup of tea. I would much rather be doing physical work than sitting at a table with pad and pen. It was much like the old saying, ‘You can take the girl out of the bush, but you can’t take the bush out of the girl’. Agriculture wasn’t taught as a subject which I expected and consequently I undertook a Certificate II in Agriculture in Years 11 and 12. Although I didn’t enjoy school I made the most of my opportunities and consequently I was awarded the position of School Sports Captain in my final year.
At the end of Year 12 I decided to take a working gap year as a jillaroo. I managed to get a position on a commercial sheep station 150kms North West of Warren. Working alongside the manager and another jillaroo on a 35,000 acre property running 7000 merino breeding ewes was certainly an experience. After around five weeks the other jillaroo left, leaving an enormous amount of responsibility on the shoulders of my then 17 year old body, but I loved every minute of it.
Throughout the 13 months that I was there, I worked alongside a second jillaroo for approximately 9 weeks. The rest of the time it was just me and the boss! It became apparent that it was increasingly difficult to find young people interested in the sheep and wool industry. One particular day I was working beside my boss in the workshop when I posed the question, ‘Why don’t young people want to get involved with wool or sheep anymore? Why would they rather cattle or cropping?’ He didn’t have any answer to it, probably because he is so passionate about the industry!
At times it was lonely, tiresome and very physical, but I absolutely loved it! It taught me a number of key things including responsibility, independence and an enormous amount about sheep and wool. I entered sheep judging competitions and I was constantly asking questions so that I could gain more knowledge. At school I was never a morning person, however when my alarm sounded (usually while it was still dark) I was eager to get up knowing that I would learn something new every day and do something that I am passionate about.
Throughout my time working on “Womboin Station” I decided that I would go to Uni and study a Bachelor of Agribusiness at the University of Queensland. Although I was hesitant I knew that it would be best to acquire business knowledge if I wanted to run my own business. It was also at this stage that I decided to go into partnership with my twin sister and another good mate. We purchased a mob of sheep and they are currently lambing. I learnt how to shear (I managed to shear 50 for the 2 days – but couldn’t walk properly for 2 weeks after!) And we are aiming to increase our mob and produce high quality merino wool as well as breeding with merino rams.
Lauren and click go the shears
The fruits of the labour
Although I’m studying full-time, managing sheep and have a weekend job I still maintain involvement in the Agriculture Industry. I applied for a Horizon Scholarship, which I was honoured to receive. With this I aim to attend as many field days and conferences as possible along with gaining a wealth of knowledge from industry leaders. I also hope that my story is able to inspire the younger generation to become involved in the agriculture industry and in particular the sheep and wool industry.
Every family needs a farmer. No matter who you are, your gender, your background or where you live you can become involved in this amazing industry. There are a number of corporations that are committed to fostering opportunities for helping people into this industry. The key to getting people involved is in education. One program which I aim to be involved in is the Jackie Howe Festival of the Golden Shears being held at Jondaryan Woolshed. The festival will let people experience the lives of pioneers and a chance to live and breathe life as an Aussie and understand what it is that made our culture and grew our spirit as a nation.
I know that without a doubt my future lies within the agricultural industry and I hope that by sharing my journey with you I can inspire others to travel in my footsteps.
Thanks Lauren Art4agriculture is indeed looking forward to you joining us as an Australian Wool Innovation Young Farming Champion