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ARTICLES >> Marketing Articles

New Age Wools – The Short Wools

Posted by Bestprac on Oct 01 2012

By Sally Ware
Livestock Officer
NSW DPI Hay

Once known as “prem” wools and seen as a sign of a “last resort” management tool such as shearing early to control lice or flies, short wools are becoming “new age”. Mark Bazeley, principal owner of the wool broking business “Riverina Wool” which has been based in Moama in southern NSW for the past 30 years has been watching the change in demand from wool processors for these type of wools for a number of years.

He is quietly optimistic that the future will see more not less of these wools listed in the sale catalogues. With a business that encompasses the sale of the wool from wool shed preparation to auctioning on the show floor in Melbourne, Mark is in constant contact with both clients and overseas buyers.

Left: Wool broker Mark Bazeley believes that short-fleece wools are the wool type of the future for western landholders. Mark owns “Riverina Wool” based at Moama on the NSW-Victorian border. He is pictured giving his annual wool market outlook in the early morning on the bus during the Hay district Peppin-Shaw Riverina Ewe Flock Competition held in February each year. Photo by Sally Ware.
 

Short wools are roughly defined as fleece wool measuring between 55 to 75 mm in length for medium micron wool compared to an average of around 90 + mm for wool grown for approximately 10 to 12 month. The crucial point that Mark is telling his clients is that there is no price advantage in waiting 10 + months for the wool to reach 90 mm +.

“There are plenty of examples from current wool sales that show wools selling on the same day, from the same area, with a similar micron, vegetable fault and tensile strength but with differing lengths - say 62 mm compared with 95 mm receiving the same clean price per kilo”, Mark says.

Although Mark agrees that shearing early will result in reduced fleece weights per sheep per shearing, overall the same sheep will cut more wool in it’s lifetime with the increased intake of feed per animal after each shearing and hence increased wool growth.

“What we are seeing is an increase in demand from the processors for these type of wools – this is the main point. The Processors such as the Chinese open top market want these wools and are prepared to pay the same as for similar wools with 12 months length. In addition, by shearing early, there is less vegetable fault, less lice problems, higher yields and higher strength. The overall quality of the wool is increased significantly and the processors now have the machines to utilise shorter styles into quality tops. Short medium micron fleece wools are keenly sought after – that is the take home message”.

“Sheep with long staple lengths are also the key. In other words the sheep need to be able to produce wool with a staple length in excess of 100 mm at 12 months or 55 mm in 6 months and the fibre diameter needs to be below 23.2 micron. Wool above 23.2 micron falls outside the type specification and is not suitable. This is a critical factor” Mark emphasises.

Mark said that although clients are slow to adapt to this new way of thinking, the ones that have moved their management to encompass shearing every 6 months are wondering why they did not make the change sooner.

“Financially, they are making more money from their annual wool sales and their stock are easier to manage. But from my perspective as a broker, I know I can sell their short wool for the same price as if they waited and shore every 12 months”.

For further details contact Mark Bazeley, Riverina Wool, Moama ph: 03 5482 2965; mobile: 0417 599 686

Last changed: Oct 02 2012

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