Farmers stock up at wool seminar

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SHARING knowledge and increasing the productivity capacity of Merino sheep is the focus of Australian Wool Innovation’s sheep classing forums. 

Seasoned Jackaroo and sheep industry specialist Stuart Hodgson, who conducted the workshop, said the classes aimed to bridge the knowledge gap for the emerging generation of growers.

“We’ve been conducting these workshops throughout Australia with great results,” Mr Hodgson said. 

“In some respects, the subjective breeding of Merinos has allowed to slide, and people aren’t getting the learning of basic Merino breeding and management.”

“To me, people can’t lose sight of the commercialism of the Merino sheep industry. The wool market is great right now, as is the sheep surplus. 

“It’s a great time to be involved in the Merino industry.” 

The workshop, hosted by Landmark Armidale in conjunction with AWI and Elanco, was held at the historical Deeargee property on Tuesday.

Landmark Armidale agent Hugh Laurie said AWI’s workshops were rebuilding the traditional skills missing from the Merino industry.

“The subjective measurement of sheep is a skill that has been underused over the last 30 or 40 years and is at risk of being lost,” Mr Laurie said.

“It’s an industry that has chased fads and changed directions umpteen times in the last 170 years.

“It shows a lot of confidence in the industry that we have in excess of 30 people in attendance. 

“New England is known for its wool so everything we can do to make the wool better we are very interested in.

”It’s the most exciting time for the Merino sheep industry.”

Hugh Sutherland, Deeargee Pastoral Company, made his property and sheep available for the day. 

He said the workshops allowed producers the opportunity to gain hands-on experience on the measurement of sheep.

“Sheep classing is half art and half science, and you never stop learning because there are always different perspectives,” Mr Sutherland said.

“I think for the younger generations a lot of these old skills are in danger of being lost. It’s more in the classroom. So instilling some of those skills into [emerging producers] about how things have been done is very important.”