Wool

Wool News

Keep informed with Wool News which covers a range of topics including latest innovations, advice to wool growers and industry news.

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Wool News Meet Our Staff
6 June 2019

Staff Profile Ian Hopkirk

Ian Hopkirk’s time with PGG Wrightson, and prior to that Williams and Kettle, started in 2003. Before then he farmed in the King Country, while also contracting as a shearer, both overseas and around New Zealand. In addition, his varied career includes gaining a teaching degree, then working as a teacher for a few years, owning a Waiouru takeaway and training shearers. 

However, wool has provided a constant theme through most of his career, which is why his present role, as a Feilding-based wool representative for PGG Wrightson, is a natural fit.
He says the Manawatu is well suited to growing wool.

“Our hill country works for those growing crossbred wool, predominantly Romney based, though has a good mixture of downland stock finishing country as well, while also featuring pockets suitable for lamb finishers.

“Wool has faced difficult times. However, over-riding trends around environmental sustainability will turn this around, hopefully sometime soon. That will improve the outlook for all in the sector, and I advise wool growers to stick to their knitting, maintain preparation standards and stay true to sound breeding genetics. While of course the lamb meat market is a big driver, take care not to let your wool slip. At some stage it is going to swing back for wool growers and the industry will turn around. If you have let your genetics go, it will take a long time to recover them,” he says.

Ian’s commitment to wool extends beyond his job. In his own time he is a judge in competitive shearing and wool handling, while his wife, Jo, is a Golden Shears referee.

“It’s great to be able to give something back to wool, and particularly to be able to do so together, as a couple,” says Ian.

Wool News_June_NZWCA
6 June 2019

The New Zealand Wool Classers Association

The NZWCA is a proactive organisation involved in the training and education of Wool Classers and Wool Handlers across New Zealand.

Membership is primarily made up of Wool Classers however a great opportunity exists for associate members to share in information, field days, refresher courses, newsletters and access to the database of Wool Classers.

For an annual subscription of $110 you will be an associate member of the NZWCA and will be supporting training and education of wool technicians in the NZ wool industry.

To join visit www.woolclassers.co.nz/join/associate or contact Bruce Abbott on 027 228 0868.

Lambswool
6 June 2019

Lambswool Offers Bright Spot for Crossbred Wool

One bright spot on the otherwise lacklustre crossbred wool market has been lambswool, particularly at the finer end.

Tim Poulton farms 4500 breeding ewes plus replacements at Kumeroa, east of Woodville, and was pleasantly surprised at the price his lambswool earned at sale in mid March.

“We received $7.40/Kg Clean for 27.5 micron lambswool. That stood out like a beacon next to the other wool types, which were all around or slightly more than the $2 - $3/kg clean mark. Our sheep are Headwaters, a composite breed developed in the South Island to suit high country farming. We lamb from mid-September through to late October, and shear the lambs in mid to late January, so they are still relatively young. We don’t clip a lot of wool, and only took 2856 kilograms from 3684 lambs. It had low colour, nice and clean, though the low micron was what really appealed.

“Like every other crossbred farmer, I’m extremely disappointed with the state of the industry. We struggle to cover costs from our wool income. If you can cover shearing, dagging and preparation from what you make for your wool, you are probably doing well, so the price our lambswool made was a welcome bonus, even though our overall wool income still fell short of costs,” said Tim.

Recycled Wool Packs
6 June 2019

Using Recycled Wool Packs

Many growers use recycled wool packs.

Although this will save on the cost of purchasing new packs, bales frequently arrive in stores pressed into sub-standard packs, which may be torn or dirty, or carry several different markings, making clear identification difficult. This creates unnecessary delay in the store.

If you opt to use a recycled pack, please ensure it is repaired, washed and sourced from a reputable pack recycler, who has applied a green packmark stamp identifying it as ‘fit for shipment.’

Weather Conditions
6 June 2019

Weather Conditions Poor for Wool Colour

High humidity throughout the country has degraded wool colour, which will impact on grower returns. 

Chief Executive of the New Zealand Wool Testing Authority (NZWTA) Duane Knowles says humidity has been elevated over the past two seasons.

“Because wool is a biological product, it will degrade with humidity, turning it from white to yellow, and making it less desirable for dying. This occurs before and after shearing, so also impacts on wool held in storage. 

“Two seasons ago, the 2016/17 summer was the most recent ‘normal’ year for wool colour. NZWTA statistics measuring colour show this year and last, wool was typically over a unit higher in colour than in that year. Increased degradation was consistent for North and South Island wool,” he said.

In the dying process whiter wool is better able to take pastel shades, therefore commands a higher price. Yellow or creamy wool, with higher colour measurements, can only take dark colour dyes, which limits its use among spinners, dyers and manufacturers.

As New Zealand produces the world’s whitest, brightest coarse wool, in normal circumstances it attracts a premium. However, when colour is high it can be substituted with wool from elsewhere, reducing demand and lowering market prices.

Optimising colour is difficult, says Duane.

“Although growers have little control over humidity, they can control decisions around shearing times and patterns. The longer wool is left on the sheep, the yellower it becomes; and the longer it is stored before sale, the more it degrades. Shearing on a six or eight month cycle is therefore preferable to a 12 month shearing pattern, and minimal storage will also ensure optimum colour,” he said.

Test certificates for colour are only valid for six months. If wool is held for longer, a new test will have to be run.

Meet our Staff
6 June 2019

Staff Profile: Daryl Paskell

Daryl Paskell’s whole career has been in wool, first for Wrightson NMA, then, with mergers, for PGG Wrightson. Initially in the wool store, he become a wool rep in 1993. His territory now extends across most of Northern and Central Southland, plus some of Eastern Southland, which produces around 15,000 bales per annum. While that is one of the stronger producing regions in the network, when the merger took place with Pyne Gould Guinness in 2005, the region produced 33,000 bales.

 “Land use change happened. This part of the country has seen plenty of dairy conversions, as well as some urban sprawl, which has resulted in a smaller clip,” he says.

He still sees the region as ideal for wool.

“Southland is a high producing area, dictated by the weather. With moisture and grass growth before Christmas, this year’s clip had relatively high colour. In a dry year, however, the colour of Southland wool is second to none,” he says.

Automation is the industry’s most positive development through 37 years, Daryl reckons.

“Changing from man power to smart power: electronic change. When I started, trucks lined up alongside the store with guys and wheelbarrows in and out, unloading by hand. Now it’s all done with much less effort, using fork lifts. Where there used to be 70 or 80 people working, now the staff is seven or eight, which is just one example of how technology has improved the business. It has been a big change,” he says.

For the first ten years of Daryl’s career, wool was profitable. Since then, however, times have been tough.

“Although there have been spikes, returns for growers have mainly been ordinary. It is frustrating because it is the only facet of farming that is not currently doing well: mutton, lamb, beef, grain, venison, fine wool, all at highs or all time highs. Meanwhile, anyone growing crossbred wool struggles.

“I firmly believe the strong wool market will recover. Alternative uses need to be found to create demand, and give growers more value. It has been a long wait,” he says.

Fortunately, patience is part of Daryl’s nature: whenever he is not working, he is a keen fly fisherman and can often be found guiding visitors from the United States or Australia around some of Southland’s best spots.

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