The nationwide shortage of shearers is causing a great deal of financial and management stress for many woolgrowers.
International borders are now open and some farmers are looking to New Zealand and other countries for contractors to shear their sheep.
Others are waiting months to lock-in shearers, and some are paying up to 80 per cent more per sheep compared to recent years.
There were several loud sighs of relief around the country when Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) recently announced it had taken another step forward in biological de-fleecing trials.
Opportunities to remove wool via chemical application have been under exploration for more than a decade.
But this new research, in collaboration with the University of Adelaide, is focused on creating a weaker zone in the wool.
This makes it easier to harvest, without losing the entire fleece in the paddock.
The compound allows wool to continue growing underneath for several weeks and the fleeces can then be harvested with an automated machine, or by using a machine that does not require any skill to operate.
While it is expected that this technology could take another five years to complete and commercialise, there is a growing expectation that it could be the answer to shearing shed labour woes.
Call me old fashioned, or even a little bit patriotic, but I have to admit to being somewhat hesitant about a day in Australia with no - or very few - shearers.
Shearers are a cornerstone of Australia's proud rural history and have helped cement the nation's wool industry into the global success story that it is today.
Walking into a shearing shed, having a cuppa with the shearers and hearing their take on the sheep and wool under their hand piece is something I always look forward to.
In Tasmania, we have been very proactive in promoting shearing and wool handling careers to school leavers.
Shearing schools are booking out well in advance and there is a remarkably high conversion rate from those completing the courses to those continuing to work in the industry.
There is also a very high enrolment rate among young females.
Primary Employers Tasmania recently reported that Emily Spencer - a young Tasmanian whose father and grandfather were both shearers - had achieved her first 100 sheep shorn in a day. This was only months after completing her shearing shed training.
It apparently didn't take long for Emily to crutch more than 400 heavy composite ewes in a day, which was an exceptional effort.
All signs are that these shearing schools are training and inspiring a very passionate and capable generation of shearers.
While it will take some time to offset the current shortage of shearers, and it is important that we explore all options and technology, let us cross our fingers that shearing will again be a career of choice.
Australia has been recognised as "being built on the sheep's back" and we hope that shearers continue to play a major role in our industry.
For me, "click goes the chemical" just doesn't have the same ring.
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