Girls lead crutching way

CRUTCHING COURSE: Meg Malycha a year 10 student from St Mark's College with Tafe SA instructor David Reichelt.
CRUTCHING COURSE: Meg Malycha a year 10 student from St Mark's College with Tafe SA instructor David Reichelt.

St Mark's College have seen an increase in female interest in their agriculture courses, including a crutching course hosted by Tafe SA which encourages students on and off the land to take an interest in the career by topping up on their skills.

Crutching is an integral part of sheep grazing; it reduces the amount of wet manure and urine which sticks to the wool around the sheep's bottom. The wetness of the wool can then attract blow flies, who then lay their eggs which further leads to flystrike. 

With many local farmers running sheep on their properties and wanting to avoid the condition, the course is beneficial for those students who do come off of farming properties, and the manager of the farm and trade skills centre Joel Head says the course has introduced students to the latest techniques in crutching and animal welfare, that they may not have known before. 

"A lot of the students are from the land and some haven't had anything to do with sheep, but it gets them into the latest techniques in crutching and animal welfare. It then leads into a shearing school to be held in September which is a five day course where students learn how to shear.

"We have had a general increase in agricultural interest. We have a lot bigger classes and the wool price is really high so lots of the farming community have gone back into sheep or have kept sheep. The cohort we have got are just really keen," Mr Head said. 

About 20 students participated in the two day long course where they learnt about sheep handling, setting up equipment, techniques, animal welfare and safety. 

David Reichelt was the instructor for Tafe SA who has been shearing sheep for over 40 years and he explained that their aim is to introduce the students to the practice, in a hope that several will be interested in it as a career. 

"Out of the group here we may get four or five that are interested in shearing. It gives them a job opportunity so they can either go on with it or come to other schools that we have.

"A lot of it years ago, women weren't allowed in the shed. Now it is common for girls to be in the shed all time time, that is really good I think. They do a better job," Mr Reichelt explained. 

One of the female students who may have a future in the shearing industry is Meg Malycha. She is a Year 10 student who comes off of the land and participated in the course to benefit her family farm. 

"I participated in this course as I am off the land and I saw it as a great opportunity to get that little bit more knowledge of sheep and handling sheep so I can use that and help out on the farm. This is to benefit my family, as we have all learnt to crutch and shear because it is a handy thing to know." 

We have quite a few girls that are shearing now and there are a lot of wool handlers. If it wasn't for the girls doing the wool, I don't think the handling would get done. They are really big in the industry now.

David Reichelt