Booming market supports woolgrowers’ shearing move

Booming market supports woolgrowers’ shearing move


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Willaura woolgrowers Richard and Jan Laidlaw transitioned to eight-month shearing, and are now closing in on completing their first two-year cycle. Photo by Murray Arnel.

Willaura woolgrowers Richard and Jan Laidlaw transitioned to eight-month shearing, and are now closing in on completing their first two-year cycle. Photo by Murray Arnel.

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Two years ago the Laidlaws transitioned to eight-month shearing intervals.

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A booming wool industry has supported Willaura woolgrowers Richard and Jan Laidlaw in the marketing of their clip, that is now coming off their sheep three times in two years, rather than twice.

In July, 2016, the Laidlaws transitioned to eight-month shearing intervals, and are now closing in on completing their first two-year cycle.

Selling at different times of the year has allowed them to smooth out their selling cycle and avoid seasonal fluctuations.

“Because we’re so controlled by market forces, we feel this is helping us average out our prices over a bigger cycle,” Mr Laidlaw said.

Their move was prompted by price penalties for wool with increased staple lengths above 110-115 millimetres.

Managing the increased shearing frequency has been made easier by leasing out their cropping program, and now focusing on just sheep.

He said the eight-month shearing program had meant they were not being penalised for length, and yield had improved, which should bring benefits with the higher wool prices.

“In the two shearings before our yield was about 69-70 per cent, but in our last two, it was 73-76pc,” he said.

“There are also fewer stresses over an eight-month cycle than 12, so the point of break has become more consistent across the staple.”

One of the difficulties in increasing their shearing is the availability of shearers and shed staff.

Ms Laidlaw said the positivity in the industry was encouraging.

“We’ve put up with low prices for a long time, and we feel it’s finally at a level that’s rewarding us for effort.”

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