Baby lamb arrivals signal spring has sprung

Students are flocking to meet the latest arrivals on a city school farm. Linda Doherty reports.

A montage of photos of students with farm animals, including sheep and chickens. A montage of photos of students with farm animals, including sheep and chickens.
Image: Clockwise from left: Year 9 student Isabel Dunn with King Fergus; teacher Melissa Ready with students from the Show Team; Menai High students and their growing flock.

Spring has sprung at Menai High School with five lambs born in the past three weeks, including one on Wednesday.

Peppa, Penny, Juliet, King Fergus and Honey are a huge hit with the high school students and primary students who watch closely from nearby Tharawal Public School.

Deputy principal Luke Meagher said touring Japanese students visiting Menai High were also delighted to see the lambs.

The lambs join the flock of breeding ram, Loki, and six stud ewes and are an important part of the school’s agriculture programs.

Students in the school’s Show Team feed and tend to the farm animals – which also include prize-winning chickens – and learn how to show, parade and judge the animals at agricultural shows.

Agriculture teacher Melissa Ready said the Show Team students learn skills including training sheep to stand still for judging, as well as delivering oral presentations in Young Judges’ competitions.

Ms Ready is also a former Menai High student who discovered her love of agriculture at the school.

“The Show Team becomes like a little club, and some great friendships develop,” she said.

Mr Meagher said Ms Ready had authentically grown agriculture as a broad suite of subjects, including Primary Industries in the HSC, and “programs that stretch across all grades”.

“Melissa’s classes consistently achieve amazing HSC results, and she encourages strong community engagement,” he said.

Five Menai High students have placed in the top 10 in the State in Primary Industries in the past eight years.

Agriculture is mandatory for students in Year 8 and is offered as an elective in years 9 and 10.

Former students keep in touch; one is studying veterinary science, another is an agriculture teacher and one manages an alpaca stud.

The school regularly wins ribbons at agricultural shows, including the Royal Easter Show, where Menai High this year won the NSW schools’ egg category.

As well as the show chickens and Border Leicester sheep, the farm raises calves and alpacas.

Students named the lambs based on the ewes named after Disney heroines.

“We can’t get the kids out of the paddock because the lambs are just so adorable,” Ms Ready said.

Once the sheep have had a successful show season, they are sold to farms as stud animals.

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