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Livestock

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The meat and dairy industries in Australia are some of the biggest agricultural enterprises in the country. Into the early years of the 20th century, sheep – particularly the wool industry – was one of Australia’s most productive exports. ‘Riding on the sheep’s back’ described Australia’s rise to wealth based on the quality of the merino wool produced across the country. Although wool is no longer one of Australia’s major exports, it is still marketed as a luxury item and Australian merino wool is considered the best in the world by the textile industry.

Sheep producers have changed their focus over the past century from wool to meat. Prime Australian lamb has become sought-after across the world. Australian sheep exports were worth over 300 million dollars in 2009. Live export to the growing markets of the Middle East and Asia has increased substantially over the past decade and the controversial practice has recently attracted attention from animal rights groups and the media.

Sheep are still considered the iconic Australian flock, but economically the cattle industry now dominates. Australia is the second largest producer of beef (after Brazil) in the world. Dairy products are also among Australia’s most valuable agricultural exports.

Alternatives to the traditional sheep and cattle flocks are becoming increasingly popular. Game meat in particular - goat, camels, venison, kangaroo, emu and crocodile – is eaten by many consumers and can be easily found in supermarkets.

Livestock

View of old Government House - Sydney - N.S.W. as it appeared when vacated by Sir George Gipps in 1845 / painted by G. E. Peacock
1806
Peacock, G. E. (George Edwards), b. 1806
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Digital ID: 
a128029
a128276
Hyde Park - the old days of merry Cricket Club matches, c. 1870? / Thomas H Lewis
c. 1870?
Lewis, Thomas Harvey, 1828-1901
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Digital ID: 
a128276
'Bolinda, Duchess of Derrimut 400th' ('Old Roany') at 10 years, 1919 / Edwin Woodhouse
1919
Woodhouse, Edwin, 1858-1922
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Digital ID: 
a5541001
'Grand Duke of Clifton, 5th' at 2 years & 4 months, 1919 / Edwin Woodhouse
1919
Digital ID: 
a5540001
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'Clifton Summerton 3rd', 1919 / Edwin Woodhouse
1919
Woodhouse, Edwin, 1858-1922
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Digital ID: 
a5542001
Series 02: Cattle, ca. 1921-1924
ca. 1921-1924
Digital ID: 
a4474002
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Series 02: Cattle, ca. 1921-1924
ca. 1921-1924
Digital ID: 
a4474006
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Series 02: Cattle, ca. 1921-1924
ca. 1921-1924
Digital ID: 
a4474026
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Sheep loaded on sheep pens on railway
1930s ?
Hood, Sam, 1872-1953
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Digital ID: 
hood_03832
Sheep yards at the woolshed at 'Fort Bourke' property. 400,000 acres which ran approx. 40,000 sheep - Bourke, NSW
c 1928
Harry Hilder
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Digital ID: 
bcp_04148
Series 06: Poultry, ca. 1921-1924
ca. 1921-1924
Digital ID: 
a4478002
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Series 06: Poultry, ca. 1921-1924
ca. 1921-1924
Digital ID: 
a4478004
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Twenty four pigs being driven along Day Street, Sydney, by a truck
ca. 1929
Hood, Ted, 1911-2000
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Digital ID: 
hood_03425
Champion Casius boar
1930s ?
Digital ID: 
hood_05398
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This story has been developed with the support of the State Library of NSW Foundation.

We would like to acknowledge the generosity of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation.