Outside the Box (09/08/15)
This story is about our merino success story and a select group of Tasmanian woolgrowers who’ve secured a lucrative deal with a German outdoor wear company. They’re exporting 30 tonnes of wool a year to Europe and that figure is expected to triple in three years’ time.
Wool revival (20/06/15)
This story is about wool. There’s been some good news recently for Australian producers, with prices up across the board. While the medium to broad range of wools are doing particularly well, growers are no longer getting a premium for superfine wool, which is why dual-purpose merinos, grown for both wool and meat, are becoming more popular.
A decade ago, a novel way of removing the fleece from sheep was being hailed as the wool industry’s next big thing. BioClip, or biological wool harvesting, involved injecting the animals with a protein which caused the fleece to break at the skin. But with dwindling interest from woolgrowers, BioClip has been taken off the market.
Killer Cats (02/11/14)
Australia’s native wildlife is disappearing at an alarming rate and the feral cat is the chief culprit. But they’re now also affecting sheep farmers in Tasmania. The cats are carrying diseases which are being passed on to flocks, with disastrous consequences.
Turning on the Tap (14/09/14)
The tap has been turned on in Tasmania’s Midlands, with the state’s biggest irrigation scheme now operational and even checked out by the Prime Minister. New dams and irrigation equipment are transforming the historic farming district and the first irrigated crops have gone in.
Interview with Roland Mouret (20/07/14)
Frenchman Roland Mouret is famous for the Galaxy dress, a celebration of the classic hourglass figure, accessible to women of all sizes. He was in Sydney casting a critical eye over the latest crop of emerging designers competing in the Woolmark Prize.
Competitive Farming (15/06/14)
If it was a football match, a group of Australian meat producers would now be in the time-on period with a couple of points in it. They’re all participants in what’s called the Meat and Livestock Australia Challenge. It’s a 12-month competition between six beef and lamb producers to find out who’s best at improving their business.
Stitch in Time (27/04/14)
One hundred years ago, as the devastating First World War got underway, Australian woolgrowers came up with an ingenious way of contributing to the war effort. This often overlooked act of kindness brought great comfort to the diggers when they needed it most.
This Woollen Life (13/04/14)
In the early 1950s, Australia was on the verge of a remarkable wool boom and a series of stunning photographs documenting this fascinating time has only recently come to light. The images were taken by a former Life magazine photographer, Francis Reiss, who was visiting Australia while working for his father’s wool processing company in Yorkshire.
A Sheep Called Alice (24/11/13)
Every now and then an outsider comes along and questions the accepted way of doing things. Marine physicist, Nan Bray, is doing just that on her superfine wool property in Tasmania. The way she runs her 1,600 Saxon Merinos may seem radical but she says it works, as wool production and quality is up and her costs are down. The ‘Nan Bray way’ combines old fashioned shepherding skills, ground-breaking research from the US and the knowledge and wisdom of an 87-year-old wool industry legend.
Corporate Conquest (23/11/13)
It’s judgement day at Pooginook Station, a famous name in the world of Merino sheep. Every ram in the latest mature batch of stud animals is being carefully scrutinised, evaluated and graded. It’s an intensive, exhaustive process, combining computer software and human brainpower.
Still Standing (18/11/13)
Australia’s wool processing industry was once an important part of our national and rural economy. But a string of closures that followed the collapse of the reserve price scheme in the early ’90s and the rise of China as a processing powerhouse means there are now very few factories left. One Victorian company, though, has survived, and through both reinvention, innovation and patient ownership, has just celebrated its 90th birthday.
Prickle Factor (05/10/13)
The recent rise in wool prices may be good news for growers, but those chasing returns in super-fine and ultra-fine wool still don’t believe they’re getting the premium their product deserves. One area that offers some hope is the next-to-skin clothing category, which is currently a pretty small part of the wool apparel market, partly because of wool’s reputation for being a bit prickly.
State of Origin (25/08/13)
If you’re a lamb producer based on the mainland then you may want to look away now, for a group of Queensland butchers claims Tasmanian lamb is the best in the country. They’re prepared to pay a premium for it too, as they claim their customers notice the difference if the product isn’t from the island state.
High Fashion (11/08/13)
Australian Wool Innovation says its million-dollar-a-year Woolmark Prize promotion will generate sales of around 700,000 garments this year. The wool marketing and research body says the global event will attract media coverage reaching up to 2 billion people. But importantly, it’s positioning wool as a key textile for a new generation of fashion designers.
Campbell Town Show (09/06/13)
The highlight of the Tasmanian wool industry’s calendar is the Campbell Town Show. As well as being the state’s premier sheep show, it’s the longest continuing country show in Australia. This year there was an air of excitement that hasn’t been felt on the showgrounds for many years, as the show celebrated its 175th birthday.
Working Dog (24/03/13)
The trusty farm dog is often far more than a loyal companion. A dog – or in many cases, dogs – are an indispensable part of running a farm. What’s more, they’re far cheaper to employ and can outperform most humans. So what makes a great working dog and how can they be improved? That’s the aim of a nation-wide survey being conducted by the University of Sydney.
Ducks on the Pond (17/03/13)
In days past, when a woman entered a shearing shed, the blokes would call out, “Ducks on the pond.” It was a cryptic warning to the other shearers that they should clean up their act and watch their language. How times have changed. Last weekend, an entire team of female shearers and wool handlers worked a shift at one of Victoria’s oldest wool sheds.
Golden Fleece (17/03/13)
The value of science and technology in the wool industry is often hotly debated, and at times, even divisive. But the numbers are certainly adding up for South Australian grower John Symons who’s turned his once unviable property on Kangaroo Island into a golden fleece.
Bug Bear (03/03/13)
When ovine Johne’s disease (OJD) first struck about 15 years ago, the psychological consequences for producers were more devastating than the wasting disease itself. Farms were quarantined, expensive stud animals destroyed and family businesses built up over generations were ruined. Now the industry is in the throes of a bitter new debate on how OJD should be managed for the next four years.
Forget Me Not (10/02/13)
Like it or loathe it, there’s not much chance you could avoid the latest campaign connecting lamb with Australia Day. Meat and Livestock Australia’s advertising is as subtle as a smack in the chops when it comes to selling sheep meat. But it works and has done for a decade.
A Cut Above (21/10/12)
Of all the steps involved in getting Australian meat onto tables across the country and around the world, the task of meat processors is perhaps the least glamorous and the most misunderstood. It’s an industry that usually makes news when something goes wrong. It’s also a difficult business to run profitably. One Victorian abattoir is widely acknowledged as an industry leader.
Survival of the Fittest (02/09/12)
There is enormous work going into improving genetics in the national sheep flock. But in recent years there’s been another massive effort in sheep management based on the simple fact that the best genetics can only find full expression in healthy animals. The Lifetime Ewe Management program has covered about 15 per cent of Australia’s breeding ewes and it’s produced some impressive results.
Choice Cuts (22/07/12)
The country’s lamb producers got together recently to look at some of the important issues facing their industry. With supply up, prices have come down from the stratospheric levels reached last year and there’s more competition from New Zealand lamb. Lamb Ex 2012 aimed to bring together everyone in the chain, from producers to processors to retailers, and what everyone wants to know first and foremost is: how do you sell more lamb?
Golden Shears (20/05/12)
If Rugby Sevens can make its way into the Olympic Games in 2016, why not shearing? The Federated Farmers of New Zealand wants wool industry sports put on the agenda for future Olympics, a call backed by All Black rugby great Sir Brian Lochore. There’s no denying the skill and endurance needed to be a top class shearer but are the kings of the boards elite athletes or just very talented workers?
Wool Modern (06/05/12)
As the Australian wool industry continues its market resurgence, some of the world’s best fashion designers have thrown their weight behind the industry’s latest global marketing campaign. They’ve produced designs for Wool Modern. It’s an international exhibition which is currently in Sydney and moves to Shanghai later this month. It’s a show billed as a celebration of wool and the finest designers of the 21st century.