SPECIALIST Traprock woolgrowers Sandy and Sally Smith said there is no going back from an eight month shearing cycle.
The Smiths noted in addition to a more manageable cash flow, having a shearing every eight months meant sheep were generally in a healthier condition throughout the year.
“There is no doubt that the highest mortality rates are in sheep carrying wool in that eight to 12 month period,” Mr Smith said.
“The traprock is wonderful country for growing clean, fine wool, but sheep have to be able to forage, so the more they are able to get around the better.
“We’re finding the sheep just do better. The weight and length of that extra wool seems to add risk to a wether operation in this country.”
The Smiths run 5500 fine and superfine wool Merinos on Allendale at Gore. One flock will produce fibre in the 16 micron range while the other will be in the mid-18 micron range.
They began shearing at the eight month mark four years ago prompted by market signals that fine wool at 60-75mm with a high staple strength was attracting a premium in the auction room.
“The only real challenge is that on an eight month cycle there is a shearing in July every second year,” Mr Smith said.
“There can be a risk of extreme winter weather but we’ll deal with that if it eventuates.”
Shearing was in full swing in the Allendale raised board shed with five shearers when Queensland Country Life called in on Monday. Sandy and Sally’s daughters Charlotte and Georgie were also home from university to help put the shearing through.
The Allendale clip is set to be sold in the first and second sales of the new selling season, which kicks off in two weeks time.
Mr Smith, who is a former president of AgForce Sheep and Wool, said a recently completed exclusion fence was also proving an effective barrier against wild dogs.
“There’s no doubt dogs are still trying to get on to Allendale but we haven’t had any problems so far,” Mr Smith said.
“After putting up the fence and seeing the difference it makes I am convinced it is an essential piece of infrastructure needed run sheep in this country.”
Mr Smith said he was committed to patrolling the boundary fence at least once a week.
“There is plenty of pressure on an exclusion fence, particularly from kangaroos and pigs,” he said. “It’s about ensuring that any potential weak spot is strengthened before a dog can create a problem.”
Karara shearer Graham Fearby gets up close to a lot of wool.
“What is really telling is the strength of the staple,” Mr Fearby said. “A lot of wool that goes through to 12 months has a weaker point in it somewhere.”
Elders northern wool manager Bruce McLeish said short shorn wool is one of the game changers contributing to a more profitable wool industry.
Mr McLeish said shorter, finer fibres with the right strength were being blended with longer, broader fibres which often has a lower tensile strength.
“The result is the shorter fibre increases the overall strength of the semi-processed wool top, while decreasing the average micron,” Mr McLeish said.
“The innovation means there is an ongoing demand for shorter high quality fine and superfine wools as a way of maximising the value of processed wool.”
Other game changers included ‘fake fur’ made from wool and used as collars on winter coats popular in cold Asian winters.