FOURTH-generation Woodanilling woolgrower Des Shackley has no plans to follow a neighbour’s lead and sell the woolshed.
Lamenting the loss of some woolgrowers who left the industry during 10 years of poor wool prices before wool’s current record-breaking run, Mr Shackley recalled how about two years ago a neighbour sold sheep and the woolshed.
“A young farmer up the road put the shearing shed on the market and somebody came and took it,” Mr Shackley said on Wednesday last week during a visit to the Western Wool Centre (WWC) to see the last of his Whatanine stencil wool clip sold.
“It was there and then it was gone,” he said.
“It was one of those sheds from back when wool was good, with a saw-tooth roof – a good shed.
“We’ve had 10 years of very poor wool prices and getting through those is really a credit to the people who have stayed with sheep and now, hopefully they’ll be rewarded for it for some time.
“For those that got out it would be an uphill battle to get back into sheep now because of the costs.
“For those that stayed in there’s been costs involved in feeding and maintaining flocks, but at least now (record wool prices) give you some incentive to spend money replacing fences and upgrading sheep yards and stuff that should have been done years ago,” he said.
Mr Shackley farms with wife Marlene, son Wayne who is now “calling the shots” and his wife Sandy, trading as DF Shackley & Co.
They run about 4000 lambing ewes, about 2000 wethers, another 1000-1500 ewe hoggets and their ewes are lambing now.
The Shackleys held fleece wool back from its annual shearing last September.
“We sold the oddments straight after shearing but we did predict last year that the wool might go up about this time so we put some (fleece wool) aside so we’ve got a bit to sell,” Mr Shackley said.
“We only had 30 bales in today, but we’ve been selling down over the last couple of weeks.
“This is the best price we’ve ever got so we’re obviously very happy.”
The family sold 30 bales of 21-22 micron fleece in three lots for prices ranging from 1580 to 1621 cents a kilogram greasy.
In a sale where dusty wool from dry autumn shearings was the norm, the Whatanine wool stood out as clean and bright because it had the dust washed out of it by spring rains before it was shorn last year.
Registering low vegetable matter and good yields of between 71.3 and 72.9 per cent, plus being full wools of between 100 and 102 millimetres staple length, the lots attracted strong bidding which was reflected in prices achieved close to the record WWC price guides for 21 and 22 micron wools.
“We were very happy with last year’s clip, it was a good cut per head, but it’s been a pretty hard year post shearing,” Mr Shackley said.
“We’ve been hand feeding fairly solid from about harvest time – December onwards.
“We are understocked because last season wasn’t doing what it was supposed to so we left about a third of our cropping program out and that worked quite well.
“We’ve been hanging fire on this year’s program waiting for the rain.
“We were lucky enough to get 15 millimeters (the previous weekend).
“We were happy with that, we would have liked more but as long as we get a follow up we will be alright.
“We put lupins and oats in dry so this rain will germinate them.
“The crops will be for feed, it’ll be replacing the silos that we’ve emptied getting the sheep through to now.”