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Beyond the Bale : June August 2009
June – August 2009 BEYOND THE BALE “We get normal measurement, plus I always additionally measure the main fleece line, the piece line and the weaners fleece line,” Grant says. “We also do European Union (EU) measurement for chemical residue. That way the buyers have all the information they need and they’re not guessing what the clip is. They know it meets the EU standard and so you get your premium.” Lionel Plunkett says that woolgrowers can easily suffer a discount of 30 to 50 cents a kilogram if they have not measured for length and strength. “With test costs of about three cents a kilogram the message is clear,” Lionel says. “If you have combing-length wool, you should measure it.” QUALITY ACCOMMODATION ATTRACTS QUALITY STAFF Justin McClure’s property ‘Kallara Station’, 200 kilometres south of Bourke on the Darling River, is certified for organic wool and meat production. Justin joins 15,000 ewes from his 30,000-head flock, which comprises a Merino flock producing organic wool and Dorpers for organic meat. Justin does what he can to take care of his staff and contractors, including providing accommodation situated on the river. “We’re a long way from anywhere and in the middle of summer, it’s very hot, dry, hard work,” he says. “The more comfortable I can make it, the better quality people I can attract and, as a result, the better quality job they will do.” Justin has also embraced the concept of additional measurement. Bob McFarland of ‘Oxley Station’ in his new shearing shed with shearing contractor David Kemp. Bob was happy for his shearing program to be analysed for Pick of the Draft to identify how he could lift profit. “I like to look at it from the buyer’s point of view,” Justin says. “If he knows what he’s getting he can value-add the product. If he doesn’t, he has to discount the product.” Running Dorpers, Justin is acutely aware of the importance of avoiding contamination to his clips. “We’ve got a dividing line down the centre of the property and we have a woolshed for Merinos only,” Justin says. “We never shear any Dorpers or Dorperinfused sheep in that shed.” SHEARING CHANGE FROM SPRING TO AUTUMN Tom and Jen Small run a flock of 10,000 Merinos on their property ‘Tottington’ at St Arnaud, Victoria. Changing the time of shearing was one of the most significant steps they took to improve their profitability. “Back in the 1990s we had a real problem with our tensile strength, which was down around the mid-20s with a midbreak of 80 per cent. That wasn’t what the processors were looking for,” Tom says. “We decided to change from shearing in spring to shearing in mid-May. We now get tensile strength up around 40 Newtons per kilotex and very little of it has a midbreak of more than 20 per cent. When we go down to the auction rooms and our line of wool goes on, away the bidding goes. It’s been a strong financial gain for us.” Lionel Plunkett confirms that adjusting shearing time can result in good financial returns. “For Tom, increasing his staple strength to 40N/kt could mean a saving of up to Woolgrower Tony Overton is filmed for the new Pick of the Draft DVD. REDUCING COSTS 13 $20,000 for changing or adjusting his shearing time,” Lionel says. GOOD COMMUNICATIONS IN THE SHED Tony Overton manages a flock of 15,000 Merino sheep on ‘Europambela’, one of the larger superfine operations in NSW’s New England region. Good communication is the key to a good outcome, especially in a shed like Tony’s, which employs two shed staff per table. Tony says communication runs right through the shearing process and includes a post-shearing assessment of how the job went. Before shearing starts, Tony puts up a large printout of all the mobs in the shearing-shed kitchen and gives a copy to the contractor and the wool classer. “The communication about mobs is there from the start,” he says. “I make notes on the printout about things the contractor and woolclasser need to know. For example, our ewe hoggets are rotationally grazed, while our wether hoggets tend to be set-stocked. Even though the wool lines go together there’s going to be subtle differences in staple length or micron.” The AWEX model presented in the DVD emphasises the importance of the mob concept to the final quality of the clip. For Tony’s superfine flock, not paying such careful attention to drafting his sheep into mobs could cost him $10,000 in discounts for mixed length and mixed quality wool. More information: www.wool.com.au FREE FREE COPY OF PICK OF THE DRAFT DVD The tips, insight and advice given by these five woolgrowers in the Pick of the Draft DVD demonstrate the simple ways woolgrowers can keep costs down and maximise profits. For a free copy of the DVD please phone the AWI Helpline, 1800 070 099, or visit www.wool.com.au
April May 2009
September November 2009