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Emily King
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ARTICLES >> Livestock Articles

Burra’s AWI Wool Clip: a great success

Posted by Bestprac on Oct 02 2012

By Pene Keynes
The Burra AWI Wool Clip coordinated by Bestprac on 27th of September was a great success with over 50 wool producers and industry members in attendance. The guest presenters were received well by producers and provided very valuable information on subject matters ranging from production, animal husbandry and health and pasture management, to information on wool marketing trends and forecasts for new and emerging markets.

John Squires
John Squires from Rural Directions Pty Ltd
led the proceedings, and first to present to the participants was AWI’s Jane Littlejohn. Her brief presentation briefly outlined the reasons and ways AWI’s investments were being utilised.

Right- Chairperson John Squires


Jason Trompf from J.T Agri-source gave an insightful presentation on profitable and practical merino management which focused on businesses making the most of opportunities by managing the controllable aspects of wool production such as ewe nutrition for greater lamb survival.

Jason gave the participants some tips including,

  • Focusing on ewe nutrition rather than eradication of predators for improved lamb survival,
  • Driving productivity by running sheep in mobs based on nutritional requirements rather than age,
  • Class out wrinkle to improve reproduction rates,
  • Feed and breed to conceive more lambs,
  • Remember the importance of ewe joining weight for conception rates and lamb health,
  • Focus on better ewe condition at lambing to improve lamb birth weights, milk production and ewe lamb bonding.

Catch-upGraham Lean from SBScibus provided the participants with some ways to improve labour productivity through time efficiencies, and employing management practices to reduce labour requirements and improve working conditions. Labour has been highlighted as one of wool grower’s biggest costs and he mentioned that good facilities attract good people when it comes to labour.

Right - Samuel Tiller, Andrew Hall and Andrew Miller catch-up over lunch.

Graham discussed principles that included:

  • Using casual labour, contractors and syndicating jobs and equipment with neighbours,
  • Managing timing of operations to meet energy demand and supply, e.g. Lambing in spring when there is reduced feeding requirements to maintain the sheep’s conditions,
  • Improving infrastructure such as fencing and lane ways to improve biosecurity, ease of sheep movements, and overall working conditions,
  • Invest in good working dogs,
  • Consider flock structures, and maintain good animal health,
  • Investigate equipment options such as crutching cradles or auto drafters to improve handling.

Gus Manatsa from AWI presented information on sustainable pasture systems in any environment. This presentation focused on establishing and maintaining Daniel Schuppan and Rebecca Barrypastures that are able to provide enough feed at any time of the year, regardless of the seasonal variations.

Right: Daniel Schuppan and Rebecca Barry

Some of the key points arising from this included:

  • Grazing industries are under pressure, due to a “shrinking window” for pasture growth, increases in input prices and the fact that it is an industry is predominantly a “price taker” with an inability to pass on costs,
  • Dry matter utilisation drives profit,
  • Reducing periods of lower ground cover which will help reduce evaporation, soil erosion and improve infiltration,
  • Improving soil health and nutrition will increase production.
  • Gus also suggested that growers should look at Pastures Australia website called Pasture Picker (

John Squires from Rural Directions Pty Ltd led a discussion on the local sheep opportunities for local SA sheep producers to get involved in activities and training projects. These opportunities included:

  • Bestprac - Network for pastoral wool producers

  • SheepConnect SA -  

  • Making more from sheep - 

  • Mid North Young guns- group of likeminded young producers

  • A number of livestock related projects funded by Caring for our Country (Grazing Management project; Rangelands Rehabilitation project) and MLA (Copper deficiency).

Gordon Sanders, Tarsha McGregor and Neil Innes

Allan Wang from AWI presented a session on the AWI Wool Market outlook to give participants insight into the trends, and the future of the Australian wool industry. He discussed the supply, demand and price fundamentals of the industry and pointed out the correlations between increased gross domestic production, the  wealth of a country and its wool consumption. He wanted to highlighted that Australian merino should be considered a ‘precious fibre’ and marketed that way.

Above Right : Gordon Sanders, Tarsha McGregor and Neil Innes

Some of Allan’s key points were:

  • Fine wool will receive premiums,

  • The wool market is moving towards Asia as their wealth and consumption increases,

  • Countries such as India, Russia, China, and Brazil have an ‘urge to splurge’ on luxury products at the moment,

  • China will act as a buffer against the Eurozone weakness for the wool market,

  • Australia supplies 25% of the global wool and has the monopoly on the 12-22 micron wool market,

  • Cashmere market correlation is strong but Cashmere is 8.6% more expensive and doesn’t wear as well as Wool. This gives support to the wool market as the price of cashmere is set to rise

Raj Bahl from AWI talked to the participants on emerging markets for Australian Wool. This discussion gave an insight into the direction for the Australian wool industry and included information on the funding for the development of wool manufacturing in new regions from AWI.

His key points included:

  • The industry needs to find the ‘new China’ for manufacture because despite their fast growth it is slowing,
  • The ‘new China’ could be Vietnam, as it is politically stable, has a supportive government, good textile associations, infrastructure and a 15% increase per year in textile growth.

  • Main concern is that Vietnam does not have wool top making facilities yet but despite this the Vietnamese have initiated training and trials,

  • Russia is another region of growth with the supportive factors for wool including, its large population, freezing climate means there is a necessity for warm garments, increasing wealth, and high clothing standards.

A group including, Patrick Kluver from Novartis, Colin Trengove a lecturer in Production Animal Health at the University of Adelaide, and Jane Littlejohn from AWI led a discussion on animal health issues for the wool industry. They highlighted the three big health concerns include worms costing the industry $2.40/hd, breech strike $1.50/hd and lice at $1.05/hd.

The main principles to come from the presentation on Worms included,

  • Drench testing is vitally important to ensure efficacy,

  • Rotate drenches to reduce the likelihood of resistance,

  • Go to the website (currently being updated) which includes regional advice, a calendar for monitoring worm egg counts and a tool for making drenching decisions,

  • There is an opportunity for the delivery of Worm Control workshops to groups in 2013.

The principles from the presentation on Lice included,

  • Biosecurity is incredibly important for lice, including checking for lice when introducing them to your flock, quarantining new sheep for 1-12 weeks and shear and/or treat on introduction,

  • You need at least 6 months wool to check for lice with accuracy, and you need to complete a total of 20 partings (10 on the neck and 10 on the side wool),

  • Liceboss is an online tool that can help with decision making and can be found at

The points to come out of the fly strike discussions included:

  • The majority of producers use a combination of mulesing, chemical applications, breeding and crutching to prevent fly strike,

  • can help producers decide the best timing of operations, and introduction of management options,

  • The recommendation that all sheep wounds are treated with a fly preventative,

  • Removing any struck wool and maggots and then destroy this to prevent an increase in fly numbers.

Throughout the day there were opportunities to network with other producers and industry members. Overall, the wool clip event was very valuable and a great opportunity for wool industry members to gather and receive an update on the latest information and innovations.

Last changed: Oct 03 2012



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