Monday, 10 December 2012

Archibull Prize Awards Ceremony

Lynne Strong awarding equal first place to Shoalhaven High for their blog.
We were totally thrilled to have taken out equal first place for the blog category in the 2012 Archibull Prize. We also received two Cream of the Crop awards of Excellence for our artwork Sweetie Meaty Pie and our video. Being in the Archibull Prize was a great experience and we learnt so much from being a part of this wonderful event. How lucky are we to have creative people who come up with the idea of such a competition.

The overall winner was James Ruse Agricultural High School at Carlingford closely followed by Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College Berkeley Vale Campus with De La Salle College and Shoalhaven High School tying for 3rd place and just behind them was Model Farms High School. Just 5 points separated 1st and 4th. This was one close competition in every element. 

To see more about the whole event and winners go to

Marni, Stuart and Ashlee at the presentation
The team with Steph Fowler our Young Farming Champion
Farmer Bill is happy!
Winners are grinners!!
The winning Cow from Caroline Chisholm

Check out all these amazing cows with so many great creative ideas!!!!


Sweetie and Bill meet the art judge Wendy Taylor

Stuart, Marni and Olivia on judging day
It was a nail biting build up to the arrival of Wendy Taylor the art judge and Lynne Strong the organiser. We had everything prepared and we looked spick in our blazers but we had sooooo much nervous energy it was hard to contain ourselves as the photos show.

Our frivolity stopped the minute that Wendy and Lynne arrived and it was down to the serious business of explaining the symbolism in our art work; namely one Sweetie Meaty Pie and farmer Bill.
Somehow though the event didn't get too serious and there were plenty of laughs. Poor Wendy and Lynne were a little delerious after their exhaustive touring around the state for the judging process and our team's infectious enthusiasm had them laughing quite a bit.We had a lovely time with them and in true Shoalhaven High tradition they left with fresh produce from the farm.

                                                      Explaining our artwork to Wendy

                                                        Lynne Strong interviews our team

These are the photos of the team putting the finishing coat on Sweetie and painting Bill in the days leading up to the deadline.

Mrs McNeil and the team putting the gloss coat on

Natasha stitches Bill's clothes on
Tabetha and Sophia

Friday, 9 November 2012

We've made it to the finish line

It was all smiles and a huge sigh today as we have finally finished and made it to the end with little drama. The closing day of the competition was today and with all the hard work that has been put into it it feels really good to know we have reached the end. Many congratulations to the whole team! Our artwork looks spectacularly good and everyone on the team seems to be very proud, surprised and impressed on our gallant and fine effort.

A big thank you from the team goes out to Mrs Hargraves and Mrs McNeil for all your help (we all know we couldn't have done it without you). We are crossing our fingers and hoping our efforts have paid off and we can put some needed money into our Ag farm.

Thanks for reading our blog and we will keep you updated on how we go!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Our Artwork - Sweety Meaty Pie

Our Art work: Theme: ‘to sustainably feed and clothe our population through the beef  industry’
As your eyes are drawn towards the strong red tones of our cows head we are signifying the importance of world sustainability. The importance of our community to come together as one to maintain a healthy but productive ecosystem which will support the increasing demands of an increasing population. The green arrow directs you towards the foundation upon which this is made possible through our rich organic soil, innovative farming practices, wise land management practices, biodiversity, the National Livestock Identification Scheme and the production of a green clean future.
As you make your way through the body of our cow we are representing the local area catchment on one side and the innovative farming practices taking place from the North through to the South growing regions of Australia. The Shoalhaven catchment is a series of small streams feeding into the Shoalhaven River which helps support Agriculture in each of the townships along this river. The coastline is featured as a big part of our local area, The Sydney Rock Oyster industry is one enterprise within this estuary. In parts the river is being rehabilitated to replace mangroves that have been eaten by dairy cows along the banks. These areas have been fenced off and the mangroves are now sites for nurseries of commercial fish species.  
The black and white cattle grazing on the lush green pastures in the paddocks below the Shoalhaven River are Holstein-Freisian Cattle. These cattle help to provide us with milk to drink every day. The smaller brown cow on the neck is an Illawarra Shorthorn also a prominent Dairy breed on the south coast of NSW. This particular cow has also won Reserve Champion at the Royal Sydney Show in the inter-breed competition.
Moving your attention to the other side of our cow: The weather vane at the top signifies the vastness of our enterprise from cattle production stations in the North running large herds of Bos indicus cattle on low stocking rates. This breed of cattle are an integral part of our export beef market you can see the Brahman painted in grey. Moving us into Cattle produced in Southern regions on much higher stocking rates.  The prominent breeds here are Bos Taurus including the Hereford and Angus featured on our artwork. Bos Taurus breeds are better known for their marbling characteristics than Bos Indicius breeds. However through innovative breeding programs we are seeing the benefits of cross breeding for consumer and market demands. Larger frame cattle with good marbling, market fat and muscle scores and great meat colour. Intensification of our enterprise has been really improving over the years as we are discovering ways of producing more beef with fewer resources. Efficiency gains are also frequently being talked about as farmers are feeding more people than ever, with less cattle on smaller properties.

There are also some cattle feeding from a trough to represent the sustainable business of Feedlots. Feedlots are efficient ways to raise cattle as their diet is controlled to give the best nutrition to the cattle without unnecessary waste. Feedlots will enable us to make enough food to feed our increasing population. Remember the average Australian consumes around 33kgs of beef a year and we need to be able to produce enough food over the next 20-30 years than we have consumed since human history.
The hind of our beast represents the importance of the Meats Standards Australian logo. This symbol signifies quality beef products produced in Australia by Australian farmers. The standards are for tenderness, juiciness and flavour. We learnt a lot about this from our Young Farming Champion Stephanie Fowler. One of the major aims of industry talks is about producing red meat with fewer resources. We have also represented the meat cuts from a beast looking at the concept;  'paddock to plate', including the farmer, the butcher, and the distributor.  

All of the legs represent the bedrock that weathers to form the soil with this being the foundation that holds Agriculture up, just as the legs of the cow hold her up. We have represented a windmill drawing water from an aquifer on one leg and a natural waterway with biodiversity and native wildlife on the other which draws in the importance of water, the water table and surface water and their connection to the soil. We have shown the importance of soil for roots to develop in and included lots of worms and soil mico-organisms which produce fertile soils.

As you follow the red tail down you are welcomed by a calf birthing and realising the importance of reproduction through selective breeding programs, cross breeding and Artificial Insemination. All necessary innovations to feed our population.

Lastly we would like to talk about the animals along the top of our cow. We wanted to show people how much of each produce or commodity it took to feed the local population of 98 076, per day in the Shoalhaven area. For us this has been the most frequently asked question: What do the numbers on the animals on the top of the cow represent?

We hope Bill our Farmer and his cow 'Sweetie Meaty Pie' can visually stimulate people into talking about sustainable farming methods and innovative ideas such as selective breeding programs, ideas for intensively farming arid areas, adopting zero grazing practices, efficient water management, reducing greenhouse emissions through less use of synthetic fertilisers and controlling feral animals and weeds. Maybe Bill and Sweetie Meaty Pie will prevent someone from suffering hunger in the years to come.

Thankyou from Shoalhaven High School Students and Teachers

Our Journey's end

The Shoalhaven High School Archibull Team 2012

On our final days this is our poem

Archi Parchi puddin' and pie
Ate the grass,
And made us cry

Oh why oh why
Did it end so soon?
We didn't even reach the moon

There once was a team
Who from nothing could gleam
A brilliant cow
Who always knew how
To break at the awkwardest seam

Some how, I think we've made it to the end
Though most of Ms Hargraves's hair may be grey
Still all our love we do send
With Sweetie Meaty on judging day
I hope things really do go our way

You will be able to check out our video on You Tube soon

Thanks for joining us on our journey.
We hope you learnt as much as us about where our beef comes from.


Sustainably feeding our future generations.

Team hits local paper

On Wednesday two weeks ago our amazing team made their debut out in the real world. We made it into the local NEWSPAPER (The South Coast Register)!!! Since the story went in the paper there has been lots of positive local interest. Sweetie Meaty Pie has been quite a conversation starter.

"At least 5 people have come up to me and said 'Hey you were in the paper the other day'" says Marni, front of the picture.

"We even got a colour picture!!!" says an enthusiastic Stuart.

Our team has been very proud of this achievement and we hope the interest within the community will continue. After all we all eat food and yet many of us know very little about where it actually comes from or how much we actually consume.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

From the Farm to you

Many Australian's don't think about what they're eating when they put the T-bone steak into the oven or they are cooking the beef for a stir fry. So how does the meat get from the farm to you?

These are the main steps in the process that our Young Farming Champion Stephanie Fowler taught us about. There is a lot of hard work, science and innovation involved in each of these steps.

Breeder -------> Finisher -------> Processor ---------> Retailer ----------> YOU

What we have learned is that there are two main ways in which beef is produced in Australia. Cattle are either raised on pasture or in a feedlot. Sometimes a combination of both methods is used.

Feedlots are efficient ways to raise cattle as their diet is contolled to give the best nutrition to the cattle without unecessary waste. However they are expensive to run compared to grazing cattle on pasture.

Australia being the arid continent that it is, with predominately old and infertile soils, does not provide a lot of areas that are suitable for intensive grazing. So in many areas cattle stations are huge properties with low stocking rates. Only in coastal and southern regions of Australia can the soils support richer pasture where farmers can stock cattle at higher rates.

So the breeder is the farmer who makes the choice about which breed or cross-breed of cattle they will raise. British breeds (Bos taurus) which marble easily are often crossed with tropical breeds (Bos indicus) which have features that are suited to the Australian climate.

Droughtmasters (50: 50 B. indicus: B taurus)are a new breed developed in Australia after many years of crossbreeding and meticulous selection for:
  • Parasite resistance
  • Heat tolerance
  • Environmental adaptation
  • High fertility
  • Calving ease
  • Docility
  • Excellent meat quality
Innovative cattlemen created a breed with the best of both worlds - a breed which could produce and reproduce in the harsh environment as well as resist parasites, whilst economically producing high yielding carcasses of quality beef. Droughtmasters are becoming a highly popular breed for cattle producers in Australia.

Most finishing occurs in some type of feedlot. The diet is scientifically designed to fatten the cattle to produce intra-muscular fat and good quality protein.

When the cattle are the right age and weight they go the processor to be slaughtered. In Australia great care is taken to rest cattle before they are slaughtered not only for their welfare but to ensure that the muscles are rested and that the meat is of the highest quality. We produce enough red meat to feed Australians as well as another 6 million people around the world each year.We also export a large number of live cattle to places like Indonesia. Australia is the world's largest exporter of red meat and livestock, exporting to more than 100 countries.

Our Young Farming Champion Stephanie Fowler is a meat and livestock scientist and from what she showed us there is a lot of research and innovation going into the meat processing phase. New ways of hanging carcases allow the muscles to remain more relaxed and new technologies like the Raman spectroscopy probe that she is using for her PhD research, allow meat graders to make quantitative measurements of meat quality.

In Australia there is a grading system for meat known as Meat Standards Australia.  
Meat Standards Australia (MSA) is an independent grading system designed to take the guesswork out of buying and cooking Australian beef. The MSA system was developed by 86,000 consumers who tasted over 603,000 beef samples to identify the key factors that deliver consistent quality beef.

This MSA logo is a visual endorsement of quality for graded cuts of beef indicating that the product has meet quality standards developed by comprehensive consumer research for tenderness, juiciness, and flavour.  

MSA does this by taking into consideration the key factors from the farm to plate known to influence beef quality accurately predicting the quality of individual beef cuts and providing a recommended way to prepare these different cuts.

 Meat Standards Australia

   The MSA ‘Graded’ logo. your symbol of quality Australian beef.

Meat and Livestock Australia are an industry body that funds huge amounts of research  to produce more red meat with fewer inputs and generate additional value from the global marketplace. Australia's 'clean, green' image and our reputation as a supplier of safe, quality red meat underpin MLA's international marketing activities. They have been working with the UNSW to accurately calculate how much water and energy is used to produce a kilogram of beef.

media releaseThursday, 28 January 2010
Australian red meat uses less carbon
A study undertaken by the University of New South Wales, to be published in the Environmental Science &Technology Journal, has revealed that Australian red meat production is much more efficient than often reported.The three year Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study across three production systems in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia has shown that the carbon emissions from sheep and cattle meat production were amongst the lowest in the world. 
Based on figures from the research, eating red meat three times a week results in between 164kg[1] to 258kg[2] of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions a year - vastly different to figures quoted that claim up to 1.5 tonnes.Meat & Livestock Australia's (MLA) Managing Director, David Palmer said that this credible and reliable data gave an accurate reflection of carbon emissions for Australia’s unique production systems.

“Most Australian cattle and sheep are raised in a natural environment feeding on pastures with little or no use of fertilizers and it is unfortunate that until now inaccurate and exaggerated figures have been used”.

“These Australian figures enable us to start having a more meaningful discussion about the industry’s environmental impact”.

The LCA process is a form of cradle-to-grave analysis that attempts to quantify the important environmental impacts of all processes involved in a production system; however it does not take into consideration the ability of soil and trees on farms to absorb carbon.  A recent report released by the Queensland Government looked at the total carbon balance on grazing lands in Queensland (47% of Australia’s cattle production) and found they were close to carbon neutral and may in the near future be a net carbon sink.

The United Nations, Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) also released a report earlier this month that found grazing lands have the potential to help minimise net greenhouse gas emissions through specific practices, especially those that build soil and biomass carbon.

David Palmer said that the LCA figures were useful to provide a benchmark.

“Importantly the figures give us a baseline from which to continue to improve the industry's performance in regards to emissions, however they do not paint a complete picture and should never be looked at in isolation of other environmental factors such as water and biodiversity". 

“Most people are not aware that livestock is the only production industry in Australia to have reduced greenhouse emissions since 1990. According to the Australian Greenhouse office we have reduced our emissions by 7.5%, compared to increases in other industries such as transport and electricity, up 26.9% and 54.1% respectively; we now have a better basis to track improvement in the future”.

“The study shows that when you look across the supply chain from paddock to processing, more than 80% of the carbon emissions come from the natural process of digestion of feed by the animal, which is why MLA has co-invested with the Federal government and other partners in a $28 million program with 18 research projects that are looking at how to reduce emissions from livestock”.

About the Life Cycle Assessment

 Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a form of cradle-to-grave or cradle-to-gate systems analysis that attempts to quantify the important environmental impacts of all processes involved in a production system using detailed input data for that system.

The University of NSW LCA showed that sheep meat was estimated to be 7 to 8 kg CO2-e per kg HSCW (unit of product used for red meat) while for beef values ranged from 8 to 11 kg CO2-e per kg HSCW.

[1] Based on lower figure from UNSW LCA (7kg per kg for sheep meat) and a 150g serve

[2] Based on highest figure from UNSW LCA (11kg for beef) and a 150g serve

Released by: Pip McConachie, MLA Environment Communications Manager, ph. 02 9463 9156.


Finally the meat is graded and sent to the retailer whether they are a butcher, supermarket or distributor. You as the consumer, then buys the meat raw or cooked.

The average Australian eats around 33kg of beef per year (that's 640g per week) and has at least two meals with beef in it per week.