7 Dec 2018

Crossbred wool gets a fibre facelift

From Country Life, 9:45 pm on 7 December 2018

One of Miles Anderson's key goals is to make strong wool great again. To achieve that, the South Canterbury sheep farmer and Federated Farmers Meat and Wool chair has his work cut out for him.

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Photo: RNZ/Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

The bill for shearing sheep is often more than the cheque a farmer will get for selling their wool.

Coarse wool prices are in the doldrums and synthetic carpets have captured 80 percent of the market.

In the latest AgriHQ wool report, coarse crossbred wool fell to $2.91 a kilo – the first time since March that it has fallen below three dollars a kilo.

Miles is a fourth-generation farmer who runs 1,400 ewes, 400 replacements and about 1,950 lambs on 220 hectares of rolling hill country at Southburn.

"These are both a meat and wool breed, the Romney, and unfortunately due to the crossbred wool market at the moment it's the meat we're aiming for because the returns on crossbred wool are so poor that if the meat portion of the sheep's income isn't decent then you wouldn't be farming sheep," he says.

Miles is part of the newly formed Wool Working Group, made up of 20 wool producers, processors and other industry representatives who are looking at how to create a more sustainable and profitable sector.

In its first meeting the group discussed being smarter about using the media, the need for re-investment in the industry by the industry and ensuring a leadership group is put in place to help drive change that is supported by the rest of the industry.

Miles believes the time is right for a renaissance for crossbred or strong wool.

"It's just a sad indictment on the industry, really. There are so many qualities and attributes that wool has that should make it a premium product."

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Photo: RNZ/Cosmo Kentish-Barnes