The Plight of a Farmer

13 04 2018

The drought in the country is making it very hard for the farmers.

My brother has a Dorper stud. Dorpers often have multiple births. He scans for twins and separates those ewes into a different paddock before lambing. He currently needs to feed the stock every day. The ewes are lambing. When he feeds the ewes, the lambs get separated from their mother. This puts them in danger of being taken as an easy feed by one of the 11 hungry eagles waiting in the trees in the paddock. There are hungry foxes around too. 

In a better season the stock would be grazing and ewes with new lambs would keep apart more. The season is warmer than normal for this time of year. The ewes are coming into water every day and staying near the water during some of the day too. In a better year they would water every second day.

His query is how to best tackle this issue.

Lambing occurs over about 6 weeks although the bulk of the lambs will fall within 2-3 weeks. There are options in the future to try to have the lambs fall closer together, so whatever strategy is put into place, the manpower involved is required for a shorter timeframe. Each lost lamb has the potential of selling for about $120 in 4 months time. 

Does he install some sort of flexible fencing or yard system and separate the ewe and twins as soon as they are born, for a couple of days. And then put them into a smaller paddock with less sheep and lambs for another few days before releasing them back to the main mob? This raises the issue of feed and water, besides the cost involved.

Then there’s a system called smart shepherd.

Or a virtual fence

I asked my brother if he could count the new lambs in the mob and track that each day to get a perspective of the duration and number of separate paddocks required. I received a video of maybe 200 frolicking lambs having the time of their life racing around. In short, it’s too hard to count them.

But such numbers do exist for the stud which one would assume would fairly accurately mimic the main mob. So a simulation of the situation could be developed. 

The main mob has 400 ewes. The stud 119.

Here’s the stud story.

Date Number Lambs Number Ewes that lambed
13-Mar 6 4
14-Mar 5 4
15-Mar 2 2
16-Mar 0 0
17-Mar 4 4
18-Mar 0 0
19-Mar 7 5
20-Mar 3 2
21-Mar 4 2
22-Mar 3 2
23-Mar 0 0
24-Mar 0 0
25-Mar 0 0
26-Mar 9 5
27-Mar 13 11
28-Mar 14 12
29-Mar 12 8
30-Mar 7 4
31-Mar 13 9
1-Apr 4 3
2-Apr 6 4
3-Apr 17 12
4-Apr 6 6
5-Apr 0 0
6-Apr 2 2
7-Apr 0 0
8-Apr 2 2
11-Apr 1 1
12-Apr 3 2
Total 143 106

There’s no definitive answer but students could still investigate the pricing of the alternatives (maybe in terms of the value of lambs) and then make a justified plan according to their opinion.



Australia drought risk revealed in ice core analysis

11 04 2018

Here are some details of previous droughts.

How does this season compare?

My brother has had

41 mm on 2/12/17

7mm on 24/2/18

This last summer is quoted as being the 5th hottest on record

They are into April and still getting mid 30 degrees temperatures.

There’s no grass and soon temperatures will fall and any grass, after future rain, will grow very slowly.

This data allows for discussion and various graph construction in the classroom.

When should we have the Fluvax?

10 04 2018

Here’s another scenario for students to consider in class. If they graphed the rising incidence of influenza and the immunity protection gained by being immunised say late April, mid May, end of May etc they could then estimate when they considered was the best time to be immunised in order to match the likelihood of catching influenza with protection from immunisation. This is another real example of the use of percentages and odds. The answer is partially a matter of preference. No answer is perfect. Any choice still has risks associated with individual circumstances. Justification is necessary for any opinion given. A great topic for classroom discussion and/or debate.

How Many Boxes of Chicken Nuggets for 1 Million Nuggets?

9 04 2018

CEFC24AC-A133-49B4-9080-7654D9F86FAFThe first I heard of this accident was that there were 1 million chicken nuggets being carried by the truck.

That made me wonder how many retail boxes or packets were involved and the total retail value.

So I checked some packets as I did my weekly shop.

A 1kg packet retails for $16 and claims approximately 5 nuggets per 100g.

A 400g box retails for $3.60 and claims approximately 4 nuggets per 100g.

A 700g box retails for $10 and claims approximately 4 nuggets per 100g.

Another 400g box retails for $6.15 and claims approximately 4 nuggets per 100g.

So how many individual boxes or packets were involved and what was their potential retail value?

Retirement Village Contracts Will Require Doing the Sums by Rachel Lane

8 04 2018

Here’s another article with data suitable for some classroom mathematics questions. Even rearranging the information into a table or graphically would make for a good exercise.

Farm Wifi

7 04 2018

My brother has just installed wifi across part of his farm. It’s an expensive process as the base at the house costs about $1800 and each repeater tower $800. Each radiates about 3 km. Then there’s the receivers which need to be in the main vehicles and machinery in use at that time of the year. These cost $450 each and are able to be changed between machines for the different operations during the year.

The property is 6 km wide along the front and almost 3 km deep. The house is near the back of the property and at one end.

The decision of where to place the repeater towers makes for a brilliant realistic mathematics problem. Google maps allows the measurement of distances as one solution. Then there’s a scale map and a pair of compasses as another.

In reality there is the added complication of terrain and interference from trees but there are ways to check this out before the tower installation.

This is new technology. I think my brother is the 5th property the installer has done. It has revolutionised his communication powers. We can now text one another, which most people take for granted but we haven’t been able to do until now.. We had our first FaceTime call about 3 weeks ago.

The best feature is that he can now communicate with visitors to the farm, who may be commercial carriers of stock or grain. This will save a lot of time waiting for them to arrive when there are unexpected delays. Previously there’s been no way of their being in touch with the paddock unless they are close (within a few km) and able to use the two way radio.

The blue dot marks the house in the image below.



How Does Praise Affect Growth Mindset? By Sarah D. Sparks

1 04 2018

Here are the specifics of praise to support growth mindset. Thank you Sarah.