To make crossbred wool a viable part of his business, South Otago farmer Stephen Jack is working on a breeding project that grows meat, but also has finer wool which can be sold for profit.
Romney sheep used to graze on the Jack family's 400 hectare farm at Hillend near Balclutha, but with strong crossbred wool prices in the doldrums something had to change; so over the past few years Stephen's been fine-tuning his genetics in order to increase the worth of the fleece.
"Anything over 30 micron, the only real use for it is carpets and unfortunately people are not willing to support the carpet industry even though it's a far superior product (than synthetics)" he says "so we've headed down the fine wool apparel wool type route with our flock".
He has successfully developed a 23 to 25 micron dual purpose sheep which is half-Dohne, quarter-Finn and quarter-Texel. He's called the sheep a Glenflora Hillender.
"These sheep they're a little bit slower at growing but yeah, you don't get many free lunches in this world and by changing our micron it's as close to a free lunch as we'll ever get I think" he says.
The finer wool is now contracted to NZ Merino to supply Smartwool who manufacture and market high quality socks.