Host: Yarrie Station
Written by – Georgia Clement, Vet Student, Yarrie Station.
A month ago I ventured from the cold south of WA to the Pilbara to do a farm placement at Yarrie Station as part of my veterinary course. The weekend I arrived was one of the busiest the region sees for it was the annual Marble Bar Ball and races. What a way to be introduced to the station crew and the community!
Coming from the coastal town of Denmark I knew small town communities were tight-knit, but up in the Pilbara there are few events and therefore people travel far and wide to come together and catch-up and have a good time. I loved the vibe in Marble Bar for everyone was up for a chat or a dance and discuss what brought you to the hottest town of Australia.
My first couple of days was of socialising and relaxing and I thought gee they have got it tough, but before long we were stuck into work from sunup to sundown. I had envisioned how a muster took place and after a full day of been in the saddle and seeing the line of cattle stretching for kilometres I was blown away. We have lectures on extensive beef production but until you see it firsthand you cannot grasp how the industry really operates.The sheer number and the different classes of cattle we got in on a muster and the distance we had to walk them to the yards was impressive to say the least.
One of the practices that I observed and was involved in at Yarrie was educating weaner cattle (tailing). Educating and training young cattle makes them easier to work with both in the paddock and the yards throughout their lives. At university we are taught about low stress stock handling but I had never heard of taking the time to educate cattle and doing activities to produce stock that work calmly through yards. This not only reduces stress of the animal but decreases time, money, and increases the stock handlers ease. Being interested in working within the cattle industry as a vet I hope to see more stations adopt this practice and animal welfare continue to rise.
Another aspect of station life that I was amazed at was some of the skill-set individuals possessed; from shoeing horses, preg-testing cows, castrating calves, driving trucks were just to name a few. But that is what is required of you in these isolated areas and vets are a rare sight. I would like to say a huge thank you to Yarrie Station and other farms around Australia for taking in vet and other work experience students. The knowledge that you gain through practical experience is invaluable. The work is very physically demanding but at the end of the day I felt pure satisfaction and I am envious of that every day to day lifestyle.
My time up north and experiencing an extensive cattle production system is one I highly value and recommend to anyone given the chance to. I am definitely heading back to the Pilbara in the not too distant future for the people, cattle, and the landscape’s beauty are all too enticing.