WORLDWIDE shearing equipment manufacturer Heiniger and its French distribution partner Coffia, has forged its efforts to stem European farmers' dwindling interest in wool.
With drastically low wool prices throughout Europe, most sheep farmers have turned their breeding towards meat or milk and consequently wool quality and handling procedures are going back.
Australians participating in the 8th World Merino Conference tours through parts of Europe experienced first hand the rather primitive shearing methods still practiced today.
Sheep are dragged and shorn on the shed or dirt floors and shorn with reasonably modern equipment.
But the shearing heads are temporarily hung with whatever means possible at the time and every piece of wool ends up in the same bale for sale.
It's not uncommon for the shearing head to be hung from a tree branch in the paddock while a shepherd keeps the sheep close by and catches the sheep individually for a shearer to remove the wool.
At the Merinoscope day, as part of the World Merino Conference in France, Heiniger and Coffia constructed a modern shearing and wool handling display, commonly seen in major wool growing countries.
The raised board design demonstrated modern shearing techniques using the latest shearing equipment and the procedures involved in handling, preparing and classing the fleece to ensure a quality product is pressed at the end.
All this was done by experienced shearers and shed hands that had worked in the industry throughout the world.
A TPW wool press was also imported from Australia in what is believed to be the first press of its kind in Europe.
Heiniger Australasia research and development representative Selwyn Williams (left), based in WA, was also part of the shearing team having shorn for 20 years in New Zealand's South Island including eight years as a part-time shearing instructor.
Mr Williams said it was an excellent educational forum for the industry while being a promotional opportunity for Heiniger's range of shearing products.
"It allowed promotion of our products by focusing on a modern system that is globally more recognised on how it's done," he said.
"European sheep farmers aren't normally too concerned with wool preparation, however we are beginning to see more growers remove the skirtings and suchlike to improve the clip presentation."