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Beyond the Bale : Dec 08 - Jan 09
SHEARERS TAKE ON THE WORLD’S BEST IN NORWAY Australia’s finest shearers and wool handlers encountered challenging conditions to finish in the top 10 at the Golden Shears World Championships in Norway last month. Attempting to defend titles from the last world championship in Toowoomba three years ago, the Australian Shearing and Wool Handling Team took on 8 countries at the premier four-day event at Bjerkreim. The Australian line-up included two-time machine shearing champion Shannon Warnest and national wool-handling champion Debbie Chandler – both key members of the AWI National Consistency Training Program. Other team members included twice national blade shearing champion David Neumann, as well as Jason Wingfield, Mel Morris and John Dalla. Nineteen-year-old John ranked eighth in the individual blade shearing competition – an event dominated by South Africans; Jason finished ninth and Shannon eleventh in the individual machine shearing contest; and Debbie ranked sixth in the individual wool handling category. Australia finished fourth in the world machine team final, and sixth in the blade and wool handling team contests. Australian team manager Mark Baldwin says the team performed extremely well under tough conditions. “We were working with coarse, temperamental breeds including the goat-like Norwegian Spaelsau and Norwegian Whites, which are similar to a Texel/Dorset cross,” he says. “Northern hemisphere and New Zealand shearers had a distinct advantage, as the breeds they work with are closer to the Norwegian varieties and do not have the density of wool typical of Merinos.” Mark said wool handling also proved challenging for the Australians, who were required to sort 40-micron carpet wool instead of the 0-micron Merino fleeces they are accustomed to working with. “When it comes to Merinos, Australians are the outright world champions, but access to crossbreds for training is difficult.” The Australian team started training in June and travelled to Norway 10 days before the competition to gain experience through unpaid work. Peter Artridge, chairman of the team’s governing body Sports Shear Australia, says the team’s qualification for all semi-finals and team event finals was “a great effort”. “The team realised its ambition to finish in the top 10, which was quite an achievement given the vastly different conditions,” he says. Peter described the performance of New Zealander Paul Avery, who won the individual machine shearing title with an average time of 40 seconds, as “close to perfect … There were almost no second cuts, no skin cuts and very little wool left on the sheep.” AWI program manager for wool harvesting Joe Sullivan says AWI is a proud supporter of the Australian team, and encouraged acceptance of shearing and wool handling as recognised sports. “To be competitive outside the southern hemisphere, experience with a broad variety of sheep types is needed,” he says. “The Australian team put in many months’ work and travelled extensively to gain this experience and refine their techniques. They are to be congratulated on their achievements.” The next world title will be staged in Wales in 010. – MeLISSA BrANAGH-McCONACHy More information: 008 results are available at www.shearingworld.com the 2008 australian shearing and Wool Handling team: (back row, from left) Peter artridge, Mark Baldwin, Craig rowsell and (front row, from left) David Neumann, John Dalla, Debbie Chandler, Mel Morris, shannon Warnest and Jason Wingfield. Clips ready for market Anti-flystrike clips will be commercially available to Australia’s woolgrowers in time for the 2009 marking season. An agreement to produce the plastic devices was signed in October between AWI and prominent Australian agricultural products supplier, Leader Products. According to AWI chief executive Craig Welsh, the commercial availability of clips gives woolgrowers a tangible alternative to mulesing. “I’m heartened that we will be able to get this product to market almost two years ahead of the industry’s 2010 commitment for the phase-out of mulesing,” Mr Welsh says. “The signing of the licence to produce the clips should give woolgrowers the confidence and certainty they have been looking for. “Leader Products is an outstanding Australian company with a strong balance sheet and excellent distribution channels, which should enable the clips to be accessible to every woolgrower who wants to use them.” Managing director of Leader Products Bruce Dumbrell says his company’s decision to purchase the licence to produce the clips was as much an ethical decision as it was a commercial one. “I’m very pleased that we have gained the licence to produce the clips,” he says. “Woolgrowers need to know that there are alternatives to mulesing and I’m pleased that Leader Products can be part of the solution.” He says production of the plastic clips should see them available to woolgrowers in time for lamb marking in the middle of next year. The clips have been trialled at selected locations across Australia. A study of their performance released in July demonstrated that after 90 days, clips came out winners over mulesing in two key areas: l clipped lambs experienced significantly less pain and stress compared with mulesed lambs; and l clipped lambs experienced greater, faster live bodyweight gains compared with mulesed lambs. Moreover, clips worked as well as mulesing in flystrike prevention when used with complementary animal husbandry practices such as jetting. More information: Leader Products, www.leaderproducts.com.au
February March 2009
Oct - Nov 08