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Beyond the Bale : December 2014
ON FARM 41 TAKES A STAND, OR 12 to be crutched prior to shearing, however an extra two wool handlers are employed to ensure any stain is taken out on the board prior to reaching the classer’s table. “This is vital and why the wool handlers must be the best. The wool that then comes to the classing table is inspected, tested for staple strength and placed straight in the press,” he said. Three presses are used for the shearing. Wool classer Chris McDonnell adds, “the concept of Fibre Direct is not new at all but works for big lines of very even sheep where there is more variation within a staple than across the entire flock. These sheep have been classed heavily so they are very even. Traditional wool classing is about putting like fleeces together whereas here we are taking the odd fleece out that doesn’t fit due to colour or staple strength but it is rare. My main job is to oversee quality control on the board.” Although Chris is a fully qualified wool classer, he cannot put his stencil on wool prepared in this manner as it does not conform to AWEX standards. If it was going through the traditional auction sale process, it would be given a “D” certificate, something which annoys Michael. This is because the bulk of the clip is forward sold and, although he knows his cost of production, if there is a good rise in the market, he cannot participate. As an alternative, Michael would like to see another category made available for unskirted wool, overseen by a qualified wool classer, prepared as done at Wyvern. This would be declared on the specification sheets sent to the brokers with the clip. Michael adds, however, that Chris does put his stencil on the locks and bellies and these lines are sold through the traditional auction system. Michael and Chris agree that their method of clip preparation is certainly not for everyone but knowing your cost of production is essential for anyone thinking of forward selling. “You must know the cost of production in clean kilos per hectare to know whether an offered forward price is going to work for you. Without this you don’t know where you stand. We offer lines of 200 bales at a time up to three years out and offer it to various brokers to see what they can do,” Michael adds. TA Field Estates shear in the traditional manner at the company’s other two NSW properties Congi Station at Woolbrook and Benangaroo Station at Jugiong, but in future years depending upon pricing and availability of forward contracts, this could change. A video explaining the non-skirted preparation can be seen on the AWI website at www.wool.com/videos NEW MARKET, OLD SHED Ironically while the brand new shed was being used at Wyvern this year, just nearby the old woolshed was being used to sell wool into a new market with a Vogue China photo-shoot – see page 6. Both Vogue China and GQ China were at Wyvern taking images as part of the Campaign for Wool in China promoting the natural, renewable and versatile nature of wool. With China as the largest destination for Australian wool, it was fitting for the classic images to be taken at Wyvern, using the latest designs from some of China’s upcoming domestic brands. A new state of the art shearing shed at Wyvern Station, Carrathool, NSW, has a large number of innov ations that make handling stock and wool as easy as possible. The Wyvern clip is entirely unskirted with 80-85 per cent of 1200 bales sold forward, giving an eight per cent cost saving on wool handling staff and selling costs. Vogue China recreated a more traditional shearing in the century-old woolshed at Wyvern for their photoshoot that resulted in this stunning image published in Vogue China (see inset).