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Beyond the Bale : Dec - Jan 08
11 WOOL HARVESTING BEYOND THE BALE For three days last year they opened their shearing shed to wool-handler coaches from the Western Institute of TAFE at Dubbo. The training involved coaches working with shed staff and looking at timing, technique, communication and teamwork. The coaches went over the shed set-up, the wool flow and the skills of individual wool handlers. "It was a mutual learning cur ve: they saw how we liked to run the shed and what we were aiming to produce, and then they showed our shed hands quicker ways of doing things around the board," Max says. "We aim to produce wool that is classed as a choice and super-spinners clip, so we use a speciality approach to clip preparation and crutch our sheep twice a year to eliminate stain. "Even so, there is always room to learn. The coaches were very experienced and superb wool handlers -- they were fast and thorough." The Western Institute of TAFE NSW provided wool- handler training to 100 shed hands in more than 50 shearing sheds in an area of NSW stretching from Cooma through to Goulburn and across to Guyra. Head teacher of shearer and wool-handler training David Crean says the feedback from growers, contractors and wool handlers involved in the training has been fantastic. "We've followed up and analysed the impact of the training and found that the overall skill levels of the participants in critical areas, such as crutch and shank removal, skirting and efficient wool practices, have improved considerably," he says. AWI wool harvesting program manager Joe Sullivan says the regional coaching had already involved more than 200 individual shed hands in Victoria, NSW, South Australia and Western Australia during August and September this year. "Our target is to have 1400 wool handlers involved over 2007-08, during the spring and autumn shearing," Mr Sullivan says. "The training is being offered nationally through registered training organisations in each state." One of the aims of the training is to encourage wool handlers to appreciate the value of their work and see their role as that of a professional with a career in the wool industry. "It's fantastic that this type of training is available," Max says. "Our clip is a high-value clip so we make the point of having a high number of shed staff, and the same staff year after year, but for growers with lower-value, broader-micron clips, the pressure is on to cut costs and keep shed hands to a minimum. "A good shed hand costs the same as a bad one, but a good one can help improve the value of your clip." ú More information: Joe Sullivan, 02 8295 3139, email@example.com To learn more about the wool handler training program contact the AWI Training Provider in your state STATE TRAINING PROVIDER CONTACT PHONE Queensland AACC Jo Sheppard 0428 536 183 New South Wales Western Institute of TAFE David Crean 0419 422 340 Victoria SCAA Stuar t Grigg 0427 857 212 Tasmania TAFE Tasmania Robin Flood 0427 342 009 South Australia TAFE SA Bob Reid 0427 604 255 Western Australia C.Y. O'Connor TAFE Stephen Madson 0409 080 243 "A good shed hand costs the same as a bad one, but a good one can help improve the value of your clip." -- MAX RAYNER Interest is building in upright posture shearing platforms (UPSPs), with the AWI-backed, transportable, multi-platform ShearEzy attracting keen interest at the Yorke Peninsula Field Days. Shearers who tested the equipment were universally enthusiastic:"I have just shorn 80-kilogram plus sheep in full wool, it's nearly 30˚C and I'm not even sweating," said professional shearer and shearing coach Peter O'Hara from Wellington, NSW, after completing a demonstration. Peter was part of the three-man shearing team demonstrating the ShearEzy at field days in southern and eastern Australia this spring, as part of the national ShearEzy demonstration program. Shearers and wool handlers gave good feedback on the system. "It's fantastic, not just for shearing but for crutching and other sheep-husbandry jobs as well," said Matthew Philipson of Yeoval, NSW, also a professional shearer and shearing coach. ShearEzy stands up to scrutiny Matthew has shorn just short of 1000 sheep using the system and is impressed that all the energy required to handle the sheep is supplied by the machine: "I feel less tired at the end of the day and less likely to suffer shearing-related injuries." Ben Swain, an AWI consultant who compered the demonstrations, explained that the ShearEzy system offers the potential to shear all sheep, including large sheep, with less risk to the shearer, as there is no catching and dragging of the sheep and it is secured during shearing. Over the long term, these improvements could offer worker's compensation benefits to employers and attract more people to the industry, as well as help keep shearers in the industry longer. AWI trials have shown that a shearer needs to shear approximately 2000 sheep on the UPSP before they become proficient with the technology and are able to shear with similar productivity to what they can on the board. Peter O'Hara felt he was able to relax and enjoy using the system after shearing only 200 sheep on the UPSP, but every sheep shorn helped improve his technique. "The more sheep you shear using the UPSP the less you want to go back to the traditional system," Peter added. All the demonstrations over the three days at Yorke Peninsula Field Days attracted considerable interest. Several woolgrowers commented that they could see the potential for woolgrower groups or contactors to buy the fully portable system, or to invest in a single-stand system themselves. They were impressed with the self-contained nature of the ShearEzy, which only requires single-phase 240-volt power. Others saw the potential for using the system for all operations that require handling sheep, including crutching and hoof and horn trimming. -- EMMA LEONARD More information: Joe Sullivan, 02 8295 3139, firstname.lastname@example.org Skills coaches point the way to best practice A believer in the importance of good clip preparation, Max Rayner jumped at the chance of in-shed wool-handler training on his NSW property By Fiona Conroy Woolgrower Max Rayner says good clip preparation is one of the foundations of his business, and with good reason, given that he needs to meet the demanding specifications of some of the leading Italian spinners. The Rayner family runs 10,000 super and ultrafine Merinos on their property 'Grathlyn', at Hargraves, 40 kilometres south of Mudgee in central NSW. The 'Grathlyn' clip averages 16.5 microns and is prepared to meet the specifications of Italian spinners who buy the Rayners' wool at auction each year. While breeding, husbandry and nutrition all play key roles in getting the 'Grathlyn' sheep to grow sound, quality wool, the way the wool is handled in the shearing shed is crucial to how the Rayners' clip is valued by processors. The Rayners shear in September, using three shearers and up to 10 shed hands and wool handlers. "Everyone in the family is involved in the shed, along with a group of hand- picked locals who have their own flocks, but work off-farm as shed hands," Max says. "It's essential that everyone in the shed understands just how important good clip preparation is. Everything needs to be right the first time, because once the wool is in the bale you don't get a second chance." When AWI announced a national initiative to provide in-shed training and regional coaching to hone the skills of wool handlers, the Rayners were naturally interested. Central NSW woolgrower Max Rayner.
Oct 07 - Nov 07
Feb - Mar 08 Supplement