08 April 2021
Leaving school, which was in Oamaru, Kevin Waldron went straight into wool. Forty two years later, and the fibre has been his career ever since.
Kevin joined Wrightson NMA in July 1978 as a trainee wool classer, at first in the store. Times changed however, and with more wool classed in the shed, from 1982 Kevin became an independent wool classer, working farm to farm, building up a classing run of around 90,000 sheep per annum over 19 years. In the off-season Kevin was first a freezing worker, then a sorter at the wool scour; until a work accident in 2000 put an end to such a physical occupation.
In 2001 he joined Reid Farmers as a wool representative, a role he has held since, albeit several amalgamations led to the company evolving into PGG Wrightson.
Covering the Otago region, Kevin says the most important part of the job is ensuring his clients’ wool is well prepared at harvesting.
“We need to make sure the clip is prepared the best possible way, so it makes the best possible return for the grower. Wool preparation can change depending on different market demands. Recently the crossbred wool market has changed, with good coloured wools now earning a premium.
“Our job is to put wool through the selling system efficiently, with no hiccups. This requires good communication with both clients and woolstore staff,” he says.
Building relationships with farmers, shearers, shed hands and woolstore colleagues is the key to the job.
“Developing trust comes from honesty and efficiency. That is the most satisfactory part of the job.
“Otago’s weather produces the best wool in the country, especially crossbred wools. Our climate is not too humid or too wet, which gives our wool the best consistency of colour. However, our busiest time is pre-lamb shearing, which now starts in June, several weeks earlier than it was 20 years ago. Shearing when wet brings challenges. Shearing through pleasant winter weather, with frosty mornings, is fine. However, any wet weather makes it almost impossible to keep the wool clean. Drying wool is also a challenge around the shortest day and can seriously disrupt shearing patterns. Wet sheepyards can easily lead to mud and pen stain in the wool, and a downgraded clip,” says Kevin.
What Kevin reckons the wool sector most needs is increased demand, for strong wool in particular, though he has faith it will happen.
“Growers must be patient. Demand for wool will come again. In the meantime, don’t throw away genetics. When growers are tempted to diversify, they need to be careful. In Otago diversifying usually means putting up cattle numbers or dairy grazing. Farmers need to be ready to put more emphasis on wool for when the market rebounds,” he says.
Outside work Kevin enjoys sport, particularly rugby, cricket and golf.
08 April 2021
PGG Wrightson Wool, alongside our International Sales and Marketing business Bloch and Behrens, has been working with Wool Integrity brand partner Norsewood Knitwear on a new range of products that include PGG Wrightson Wool with the Wool Integrity stamp.
Recently released under the brand Boundless available in charcoal or pink, and now exclusively available through PGG Wrightson retail stores and online, a work sock is the first product of this relationship followed by a beanie and gloves. Based on the classic Softly Softly, initially developed by Norsewear in the mid 1960s with a cushioned sole for comfort and a lighter weight upper to reduce bulk around the feet and ankles, the Boundless sock is 100 per cent produced in New Zealand.
Boundless uses a blend of the soft North Island lamb’s wool and South Island merino fibre including nylon reinforcing for the heel, all sourced through PGG Wrightson Wool Integrity partner growers. After scouring in Timaru and Napier the wool goes to WoolYarns New Zealand in Wellington for dying and spinning, before being sent to Norsewood Knitwear in the historic town of Norsewood, where the socks are produced.
Carrying the Wool Integrity brand, created by Bloch and Behrens in 2015, Boundless will be internationally recognised as meeting criteria around animal welfare, environmental sustainability, traceability and wool quality.
Wool Integrity growers abide by the internationally recognised freedoms of animal welfare: their sheep are free from thirst, hunger, discomfort, pain and disease, distress, and have the freedom to express their normal behaviour.
PGG Wrightson’s involvement at every step in the supply chain, from farm gate to retail, ensures a 100 per cent local product: part of our commitment to ensuring better returns for growers, and the wider industry.
08 April 2021
Paul Sherwood has been farming for 30 years. In the past five years he has fully taken over the property that has been in his family since 1979: Otamauri Station, 50 kilometres west of Hastings.
Otamauri Station lambs around 3000 ewes and 800 hogget replacements. Paul also finishes 400 rising two-year old heifers per annum, while trading between 2500 and 5000 lambs each year.
Paul and PGG Wrightson wool representative Andy Anderson have a strong business understanding, characterised by Paul as an old fashioned farmer-wool rep relationship.
“Andy, and before him his predecessor Stephen Fussell, know how to achieve the best value from our clip. What we produce is not the biggest though not the smallest consignment going through the auction. I follow the wool market, though don’t have the time or inclination to sniff out the best contract on every occasion. Andy does, as did Stephen previously. They always have a wide array of options to offer.
“I trust them to do the best by my wool. I take their expertise on board and know that they will place our wool in the highest value markets.
“It works. Andy points us in the direction of the best returns,” says Paul.
Andy Anderson agrees that the trust between Otamauri Station and PGG Wrightson has achieved some exceptional results.
“We provided Paul with a lamb’s wool contract this season, which in some cases was more than double the open market. Spreading risk for our clients delivers returns that they would not be able to achieve individually, or by placing their wool elsewhere.
“We locked Otamauri Station’s lamb’s wool in at $5 per kilogram. We also locked in a three-year flexi contract that valued the clip’s main shear ewe’s wool at more than $1 per kilogram higher than where the open market was at the time.
“Farmers find it hard to budget against the wool market’s instability. Having forward contracts helps even out the peaks and troughs. When obvious winners like this year's lamb’s wool contract come out at $5 per kilogram, farmers know it’s a no brainer,” says Andy.
Situated at the top end of Hawke’s Bay on the way to Taihape, Paul says location and altitude mean sheep will always be a dual purpose animal at Otamauri Station.
“That is one of the great reasons for their popularity through the ages, and their long term profitability. People might be allured into withdrawing from wool for short term reasons, though I am not inclined to do that myself. I see wool as a great product. I strongly believe it will click again. Wool is versatile and natural. Although at present it may not be our main priority with selecting sheep, our stock will still have wool on their backs, and we look forward to wool coming around again. That could happen quickly. Anyone who takes a short term approach, breeding sheep exclusively for meat, is cutting themselves off from the animal’s versatility.
“When I was young we used to pluck dead sheep to get the wool off them. Times change, and they are likely to change back,” he says.