Fourth International Congress for Sheep Veterinarians

Held on 2nd to 6th February, 1997 at University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia

Australia was an appropriate host for the Fourth Congress. It has one of the world's largest sheep populations, it leads the world in wool production and it exports 40% of its prime lamb production. The sheep enterprises and their management are diverse because of the range of environmental conditions in the Australian continent. There are many sheep flocks with more than 20,000 ewes, down to family properties running 3,000 ewes.Australia has a lot of veterinarians involved with the sheep industry, in practice, government, research, teaching and commercial companies.All rural communities have veterinarians competent in sheep medicine and production.

The Australian Sheep Veterinary Society were privileged to be able to host this event.

Precongress Tour

The precongress tour was ably lead by Dr John Plant through the country of New South Wales and Queensland, visiting many sheep studs and sheep related industries.A total of 72 participants from 23 countries gave this an international flavour and put the Australian sheep industry on display.

The tour included:

Day 1: Visit to Yennora Wool Selling Centre, then to Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute and regional diagnostic laboratory.
This was the site of the first sheep introduced into Australia and progeny of these sheep were on display.
Day 2: After a night in Canberra (Australia's capital city) the group visited Merryville Merino stud.
Day 3: Visit to an Awassi sheep flock and to a prime lamb enterprise, with dinner at the Dubbo Zoo.
Day 4: Stayed in Dubbo and visited an export abattoir, the Stock Selling Centre and a Merino Stud.The ladies had a shopping day.
Day 5: Moved into the western plains country and saw sheep shearing, emus, kangaroos and opal mining.
Day 6: Moved across the border into Queensland with a visit to the University of Queensland Pastoral Veterinary Centre at Goondiwindi.
Day 7: After a visit to another Merino Stud the group had a gentle travel to Armidale to join the start of the Congress.

Each day the tour was joined by an agriculturist with expertise in the area visited.They were a valuable source of information.

The Scientific Programme

The scientific programme gave participants opportunities to listen to presentations on their areas of interest.The Congress opened with an overview of the sheep industry.Each a half day started with a plenary session with keynote speakers.These were followed by two alternate sessions, either reinforcing the plenary, or introducing new material.There were six scientific sessions.

Every paper presented was peer-reviewed, and was available to delegates on arrival as a comprehensive proceedings.

Two half days were devoted to practical sessions.Five options were given, of which participants could visit two and on two different afternoons.The sessions included a visit to a commercial sheep property, a visit to a Stud Merino Show, a parasitology workshop, a display and discussion on meat and wool production and a sheep handling demonstration.These were well received with much active participation and discussion.

The Social Programme

The social programme was varied, relaxing and enabled lots of interaction between attendees.

The night before the Congress started was a welcome dinner that started the camaraderie.

The second night had a tour of the local art gallery, some Aboriginal cultural entertainment, and then a smorgasbord dinner with lamb prepared according to every culture in the world.

The third night was a camp oven dinner held in a historical woolshed.Bush music kept people entertained.Being out in the country the sky was clear and many visitors had a clear view of the stars for the first time in their lives.

The final night was a formal dinner. The entertainment of the evening was a fashion parade featuring garments made from wool that had been successful at the 1996 Wool Expo.This put the Australian wool industry on display.

Committee Structure

The organisational committee structure consisted of a central committee based in Sydney, a local arrangement committee based in Armidale and a scientific committee headed by Dr Helen Chapman in Perth.

The central committee comprised, Bruce Farquharson (chair), Kym Abbott, Bruce Allworth, Bill Johnson, Paul Nilon and John Plant.

The local arrangements committee comprised John MacFarlane (chair), Steve Atkins, Bruce Chick and David Moens.

The scientific committee invited the keynote speakers, reviewed all of the precis' submitted to develop the scientific programme.Approximately 50 submissions were displayed in a poster session that was available throughout the Congress. This committee also collated the presentations for inclusion in the Congress proceedings.

The Congress appreciated the generous sponsorship from the commercial companies that produce animal health products for the sheep industry. These companies exhibited displays at the venue and had staff available for discussion about their products.


Approximately 750 people attended the congress as participants or accompanying persons.They came from 30 different countries, representing most sheep-producing countries in the world. One hundred and eighty Australian veterinarians attended.


This Congress was highly successful for several reasons.The large sheep population and the amount of research being conducted into sheep diseases and production made Australia an attractive venue.The venue in Armidale was excellent with good facilities, few distractions, a moderate climate, a welcoming community and a significant group of local veterinarians involved in the sheep industry to organise the local events.The scientific programme involved many Australian scientists presenting their most recent research supported by overseas presenters.The range of proffered papers gave the programme a broad scope.

The organising committee had experienced previous Congresses so were familiar with requirements.The scientific content of the Congress was of a high a standard.The practical sessions were appreciated and gave participants a break from the lecture theatre.The proceedings are a good record of the presentations.

Generous sponsorship kept the costs to a moderate level and was much appreciated.Sponsorship must be secured well in advance as companies make out their budgets at least 12 months in advance.

The people represented on the committees were committed.Not only to the Congress but also to the sheep industry. They worked tirelessly.

Finally the participants make a Congress.We were grateful for the number attending and for their involvement and contribution.When people have adequate lead time with detailed information, they can plan to attend.


Bruce Farquharson
John Plant
On behalf of the Organising Committee

Genesis - the sermon delivered by 'The Rev' David Henderson on the occasion of the 4th ISVC. (1.7MB PDF)