Caring for the lambs at the correctional centre has hit the inmates’ soft spots. (Supplied: Cooma Correctional Service)
Cute, soft, and cuddly baby orphaned lambs are being cared for at an unusual location — the Cooma Correctional Centre in the Snowy Monaro region of New South Wales.
- Inmates at Cooma Correctional Centre are caring for orphaned lambs in a program helping farmers affected by drought
- One inmate says it has made him “a bit more kind-hearted and gentle”
- The program, which is receiving a positive reaction from the community, continues to grow
Inmates at the prison have been taking care of the lambs, waking up all hours of the night to feed the hungry livestock.
The program is the first of its kind in the state and is designed to assist drought-stricken farmers going through a challenging time with ongoing dry conditions across the country.
Staff member and former dairy farmer Julia Gilroy initiated the program in the hope it would teach inmates basic new agriculture skills while also assisting local farmers.
“Everyone loves baby lambs,” she said.
“I’m constantly telling the inmates to let the lambs have a rest and to have a break from patting them.”
Farmers contact the correctional centre to arrange a space for their lambs.
The lambs are then dropped off at the prison before being assessed and after about eight weeks of care and nurturing, they are returned to their owners.
Staff at the centre have praised the inmates for the way they are caring so well for the animals. (Supplied: Cooma Correctional Service)
Inmate Chris is participating in the program and has embraced the concept.
He said he thought it would be a good way to show he could be a civil person and give back to the community.
“I’ve learnt how to weld and [also] care for the baby lambs,” he said.
“I’ve learned a few things about myself I didn’t know beforehand, prior to coming into custody.”
Staff at the correctional centre have praised the positive attitude of the inmates taking part in the program and said the orphaned lambs had proven to hit inmates’ soft spots.
“It’s made me a bit more kind-hearted and gentle,” Chris said.
“Who doesn’t love a baby lamb? I just love them.”
With the centre receiving positive feedback from the community and farmers taking advantage of the program, staff and inmates have been building more indoor pens to house the lambs.
“We started off with only one pen, then two, then three as the program keeps growing,” said former manager of security at the centre Brian Gurney.
“We are looking to help farmers as much as we can.
“The other part of the program is about life skills and what the inmates can learn and take with them into the future.”
Anonymous community members have donated supplies such as food, bottles, blankets, and clothing to the correctional centre but Ms Gilroy said the need for donations was growing.
“Milk powder is one item we need,” she said.
In the meantime, inmates have certainly ‘raised the baa’ in providing comfort and care for the little lambs.
If you wish to make a donation of goods to the program, please contact the Cooma Correctional Centre on (02) 6455 0306.