SHORT wool with staple lengths of 57 to 67 millimetres from a six-month shearing did not significantly penalise Three Springs woolgrower Anthony Thomas at the Western Wool Centre (WWC) last week.
Primaries of WA wool technician Graeme Luff said the prices Mr Thomas received last Thursday for his “prem” wool from a second shearing this year, were less than 30 cents a kilogram clean below what he might have expected for “full wools”.
“I reckon there was only a 28-30c discount on your lines,” Mr Luff told Mr Thomas who was at the sale, having returned from Sydney where he attended the Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) annual meeting the week before.
Wool manager Greg Tilbrook said Mr Thomas’ shorter but strong – 29-53N/kt – 18-19.4 micron fleece wools from six-month shearings were ideally suited to the wool top market.
“This is the type of wool that goes into the close-to-the skin outdoor active wear market,” Mr Tilbrook said.
“What we’ve dropped off in the drape market – that’s suits – we’ve picked up and probably gone even further in the open top market.
“If you had asked me three years ago how many buyers are in the active top market it would have been two.
“Now you’ve got more and you’ve also got big fleece traders coming into the open top market as well.
“At about 70mm (staple length) your wool can go either way into either market,” he told Mr Thomas.
Eight lines totalling 66 bales, part of an October shearing, were auctioned at the WWC to a top of 1328c/kg greasy for fleece and 1110c/kg for lambs’ wool.
Three lines were passed in.
Mr Thomas, principal of Hill Padua Polls Merino stud, said he had been shearing twice a year for five years with a commercial flock of about 2200 Merinos and a stud breeding flock of 1100 ewes.
He said he used Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) to select rams and ewes for both wool and meat traits to breed large plain-bodied sheep – he stopped mulesing in 2004.
“It (using ASBVs for breeding selection) works, there’s absolutely no doubt, and it works well with six-month shearing,” Mr Thomas said.
“The sheep are healthier, they’re more fertile (he had a 114 per cent lambing rate this year but it has been up to 135pc), there’s less flies and less lice.
“I save on not having to crutch, not having to mules and I save on chemicals.
“Our sheep remain fat, even with a lamb on them and we are feeding them (Mr Thomas said he was hand feeding pellets and hay from May until a lupin crop came up in July).
“In fact, the shearers are starting to complain our sheep are getting too strong.
“When they’re being shorn if they stretch or take a big breath, the shearers’ feet come off the ground,” he joked.
Mr Thomas said he attended the AWI annual meeting this year because he expected “some fireworks” but that did not happen.
He said he had been impressed by returned director Colette Garnsey and new director Don Macdonald and had voted for both.
Mr Thomas said he also supported former director Paul Cocking who was narrowly defeated by returned director James Morgan.
Mr Thomas said he had two conversations with Mr Macdonald who told him he had received strong support from WA woolgrowers.
“That was the advantage in going to the meeting, I was able to speak to them (directors and board candidates) in person,” he said.
Mr Thomas intends to go to the 10th World Merino Conference being held in Montevideo, Uruguay, next April.