||Technology in Australia 1788-1988
Table of Contents
I Groping In A Strange Environment: 1788-1851
II Farmers Take The Initiative: 1851-1888
i Setting the scene for change
ii A transplanted community; a transplanted technology
iii The development of appropriate technology
iv Importation, adaptation and innovation in cropping
v Introduction and innovation in livestock husbandry
III Enter Education And Science: 1888-1927
IV Agricultural Science Pays Dividends: 1927-1987
V Examples Of Research And Development 1928-1988
VI International Aspects Of Agricultural Research
VII Future Prospects
Introduction and innovation in livestock husbandry (continued)Herbert Austin, the foreman at R. P. Park's engineering works in Melbourne where the shearing machine hand pieces were first made commercially, impressed Wolseley with his suggested improvements to the hand piece and later became Wolseley's foreman in Melbourne, helping to promote the shearing machine around Australia. In 1889 Wolseley returned to England and set up the Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machine Co. Pty. Ltd. in Birmingham, and four years later Austin went to the Birmingham works as production manager. The names of Wolseley and Austin were to become widely known, not so much for their association with shearing machines for Australian wool growers, as for their association with motor cars. In 1895 Austin designed and made the first Wolseley motor car at the Birmingham works, and in 1905 he set up his own car manufacturing company at Longbridge near Birmingham.
Perhaps the greatest technical innovation in livestock husbandry during the 1850s1880s was the development of the Australian Merino into a larger, more productive sheep, with distinct regional types, different in size and in fleece characteristics, and adapted to specific regional environments. This important development did not result from any overall systematic plan but, rather, was the outcome of flock selection by gifted breeders with large flocks who, in their own environments, preferentially bred from their most productive animals. The medium-wooled 'Peppin' Merino, developed by the Peppin brothers in the Riverina district of New South Wales, is one example; while the strong-woolled South Australian Merino, which was developed in that State in the early twentieth century, is another. Although Ryder and Stephenson found that an examination of Australian Merino wool follicles does not support the suggestion that British breeds might have been involved in the development of the local breed, there is historical evidence that Leicesters and other British breeds were used in the early breeding of Merinos to increase the body size and length of staple.
Parallel with the development of the Australian Merino was the increasing attention given to the breeding of other livestock for specific markets. In the early years of settlement cattle were multi-purpose -animals from the same herd being used for draught, meat and milk. A notable departure from this at an early stage was the development in the 1820s of dairying on small farms on a fertile coastal strip, the lllawarra district, south of Sydney. The group of experienced farmers who settled in this area supplied the Sydney market by shipping their produce in small coastal vessels. Eventually the Illawarra Dairy Shorthorn, a milking Shorthorn with some Ayrshire and Devon blood, was developed there and gradually became recognised as a distinct breed.
By the 1870s the livestock industries were sufficiently well established for graziers to participate in the current British and American mania for fashionable livestock breeding supported by show ring exhibitions and recorded herd book pedigrees. Highpriced sheep and cattle, predominantly longwool sheep, Alderney and Ayrshire dairy cattle, and Hereford and Shorthorn beef cattle, were all imported from Britain; especially Shorthorn cattle, which at that time were the show ring favourites in all three countries. Then, in 1873, as a disease control measure, the Colonial Governments imposed a ban on livestock imports. The price of imported animals which were already in the country, and their offspring, rose rapidly and prices of up to £2,500 were paid for pedigree Shorthorn bulls. After the embargo was lifted in 1878 these prices fell rapidly and, at about the same time, there was also a world-wide reaction to overinflated prices for pedigreed animals. Nevertheless, this active involvement in the purchasing and exhibiting of fashionable livestock had resulted in animals representative of the best blood lines in the United Kingdom's livestock industries being brought into the colonies and therefore Australian farmers had a valuable range of genetic material from which to select future breeding stock. It has remained a characteristic of the Australian pastoral industries that there has been a liberal importation of superior breeding stock from overseas, particularly from the United Kingdom, since the 1820s and, to a lesser extent, from the United States. Canada and the Indian subcontinent during the twentieth century. Local studs of United Kingdom breeds were established during the second half of the nineteenth century and. apart from the Australian Merino sheep and the crosses derived from them, and the Illawarra Shorthorns, these remained the preferred breeds until the mid-twentieth century.
Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machine Co. Pty Ltd
People in Bright Sparcs - Austin, Herbert; Park, R. P.; Wolseley, Frederick York
© 1988 Print Edition pages 15 - 16, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher