cockatoo farmer

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Probably refers to the practice of working a small patch of land for a short period before moving on, in the manner of a feeding cockatoo.[1] Alternatively so called to compare the farmers with the common sulphur-crested cockatoo, which come down on the newly sown cornfields in myriads.[2]


cockatoo farmer (plural cockatoo farmers)

  1. (Australia, derogatory, obsolete) A small-scale farmer.
    • 1875, Anthony Trollope, Bradford Allen Booth (editor), The Tireless Traveler: Twenty Letters to the Liverpool Mercury, page 177,
      The cockatoo farmer of South Australia lives a plentiful but not a picturesque life, and unless he gets hopelessly into debt is his own master.
    • 1888, William Gordon Stables, From Squire to Squatter[1], page 182:
      “ Does it pay to breed cockatoos ?” said Archie innocently.
      “Don′t be the death o′ me, Johnnie. A cockatoo farmer is just a crofter. []
    • 1911, The Academy, Volume 81, page 415,
      This is the dwelling of a cockatoo-farmer, the humble agriculturist who makes the most of his thirty or forty acres of land, []

Usage notes[edit]

The term was used by squatters in disparagement of the small scale of the operations.


  1. ^ Australian National Dictionary Centre » Meanings and origins of Australian words and idioms » C.
  2. ^ Lentzner Karl, "Dictionary of the slang-english of Australia, and of some mixed languages", 1893.