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Beyond the Bale : April May 2009
April – May 2009 Beyond the Bale PROcessinG pick of the draft 19 and lost production caused by lice, could in the end cost more than $10,000. “Pre-shearing crutching should pay for itself,” Lionel says. “it would cost our sample woolgrower the equivalent of 15 cents a kilogram to crutch before shearing – an amount that could easily be lost in discounts for stain if the flock wasn’t crutched.” similarly, clip contamination from dark or medullated fibres (the result of darker breeds being run with Merinos) could cost a grower up to $1 per kilogram. in the sample flock that would be $13,500 lost. in understaffed sheds, faults such as A new economic model helps woolgrowers identify savings through improved clip preparation simple steps to improve their pre-sale clip preparation, according to senior market analyst for the Australian Wool exchange (AWeX) Lionel Plunkett. A computer-based financial G model developed by AWeX will allow woolgrowers to measure, in advance, the financial benefits of paying attention to the little things that might affect clip quality. in May AWi, in association with AWeX, will launch Pick of the Draft, a DVD that demonstrates how simple measures in 10 key areas can result in a quality clip that attracts a better sale price. the DVD explores these key profit drivers and more – and includes other suggestions for improving profitability. the rowers could literally save themselves thousands of dollars by taking DVD will be free to Australian woolgrowers on request. “the model is based around an average woolgrower,” Lionel says. the model flock is 3,000 Merino sheep, cutting 4.5 kilograms of 19-micron wool greasy. the flock is shorn in a three-stand shearing shed, with three staff putting through 140 sheep per shearer a day. the total clip is 13,500 kilograms. Lionel says important areas include pre-shearing crutching, good lice treatment, avoiding dark and medullated fibres, having adequate staffing and increasing bale weights. For example, the model shows that leaving a case of lice untreated can cost much more money than it saves. in the sample flock, cotted and coloured wool, which skin tends to become more sensitive to physical stimulus, the trials showed good rates of sensitivity o slight differences in wool micron. Furthermore, a ‘population response’ to each garment was achieved, which takes into consideration the vast differences in sensitivity between wearers. “As the project progresses, and fabric The Sheep CRC’s ‘Skin Comfort Meter’ assesses the next-to-skin comfort of wool fabrics. of conditions ranging from air-conditioned comfort to gentle exercise in a warm, humid environment. Under the latter conditions, during is engineered to give specific next-to-skin omfort, we will be able to determine how much of the population will find it omfortable,” David says. The project has already captured the interest of four major Australian wool textile companies. Next steps include measuring and trialling more commercially available fabrics to completely establish the supply-chain specifications and to stained and poorly skirted fleece could lead to losses of up to 30 cents a kilogram. Lionel comments that even with the expense of another shed hand, the sample flock would still be $2,500 better off. “And, although it sounds like a no-brainer, just the simple step of increasing average bale weights from 160 to 180 kilograms would save almost $600 on packs, freight and selling costs,” he says. “these figures are realistic averages and give woolgrowers an idea of the comparison of doing something versus not doing it.” Lionel is urging growers to view such costs as investments: “i know it’s hard in tough times to fork out the dollars upfront for things like lice treatments and adequate staffing, but in the long run you will be more profitable if you prepare your clip well.” More information: to receive a copy of the Pick of the Draft DVD in May, please register your interest with AWI’s Mary Goodacre, firstname.lastname@example.org produce the best next-to-skin comfort. Comfort meters will undergo commercial trials to fully test their accuracy and consistency, while promoting their usefulness and availability for adoption. “We have come a long way in 18 months: from an ambitious plan and a group of dedicated wool researchers at both CSIRO and the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA), to a working skin comfort meter,” David says. “As a partner in the Sheep CRC, AWI is proud to be supporting this initiative, and the AWI international supply-chain network is proving to be invaluable in linking the project to the market. “Together that gives us the recipe for success in this project.”
February March 2009
June August 2009