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Not all baaaaad: Cooma inmates help drought-stricken farmers

Published date: Monday, 23 September 2019

Cooma Correctional Centre staff and inmates are easing the pressure on drought-stricken graziers, by feeding and housing orphaned lambs until they’re healthy enough to return to the land.

Overseer Julia Gilroy initiated the program and said the centre has so far taken on 15 lambs and is expanding the program to accommodate more.

“As an experienced farmer, I am well aware of the difficulties faced by local graziers raising lambs in drought conditions,” Ms Gilroy said.

“These lambs have been orphaned because their mothers have either died or are unable to feed them – so by housing, feeding and caring for them, we’re taking some of the pressure off our graziers.”

The Corrective Services NSW facility has partnered with local businesses Agriwest Cooma Rural and Dalgety Show Society, which have donated food, bottles, blankets and supplies. The RSPCA, Snowy Mountains Wildlife Rescue and local vets have also offered their support.

Cooma Manager of Security Brian Gurney said staff and inmates have been busy building additional pens for the lambs, which are only one or two days old when they arrive at the centre.

“Farmers who have dropped lambs off have been very grateful for the help and really positive about the set-up we have and the care their lambs are receiving,” Mr Gurney said.

“Overseer Gilroy has done a fantastic job initiating the program, coordinating the support and teaching the inmates how to appropriately care for the animals.

“It’s not only a great outcome for our farmers who are battling through this drought, it’s great for the inmates to learn new skills and feel proud that they’re helping the community.

“Many of these inmates come from rural backgrounds and are keen to provide drought relief in a practical way.” 

Staff and inmates initially built enough indoor pens to house 12 lambs, but that was quickly expanded due to demand. Each lamb will be housed and fed for about eight weeks, until they are strong and healthy enough to be returned to the farm.

The centre is now seeking donations of blankets, powdered milk and feed to aid with the lambs’ care.

Anyone wanting to donate to or take part in the program can contact the centre on 02 6455 0306.