SA sheep producers are ahead of the game when it comes to shearing more than every 12 months, but they are being urged to keep a close eye on the market to keep track of discounts for shorter staple lengths.
Australian Wool Innovation genetics and animal welfare advocacy program manager Geoff Lindon said that while the vast majority of sheep producers were still shearing on an annual basis, SA was leading the way with switching to six-monthly and nine-monthly shearing frequencies.
Speaking at the It's Ewe Time forum in Karoonda last month, Mr Lindon presented Australian Wool Exchange findings that showed 19 per cent of SA sheep producers were shearing more than once a year.
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"In terms of accelerated shearing, about 10pc of producers were shearing every six months, 9pc every nine (months) and 79pc shearing every 12 months," he said.
"Compared to all the other states and the national average, SA is well ahead in terms of moving to six-monthly or nine-monthly shearing frequencies," he said.
Mr Lindon said good conditions in SA contributed to longer staple lengths.
"Feed in SA is typically better than other states, your worm levels are low, you don't have to deal with extreme heat often and you've got reasonably nutritious pastures, so you're producing a longer staple naturally," he said.
It's a matter of keeping in tune with your wool broker or analysing the wool market on a daily basis.
Mr Lindon said SA Merino bloodlines, which typically resulted in taller and bigger animals, also favoured a longer staple length, making more frequent shearing easier.
"During the 1880s there were English longwool breeds used in Merinos that largely stamped the SA type, and that extra staple length is still evident today," he said.
As a general rule, Mr Lindon said discounts in Merino type wool became apparent in staple lengths of 70 millimetres or less.
He said that in Feburary 2019 there was a significant discount of almost $7 a kilogram for 19 micron to 21M greasy wool with a 40mm staple length, compared with about a $3/kg discount at the same time last year, with lesser discounts for 50mm to 60mm wool.
"Discounts vary over time and between microns, the lower the micron the greater tendency to have a shorter staple anyway," he said.
Mr Lindon said while there was presently a significant discount for shorter staple lengths, trends such as an increased supply of shorter wools - caused by producers shearing their sheep and selling earlier due to the drought - had the potential to reduce the extent of the discounting.
"It's a matter of keeping in tune with your wool broker or analysing the wool market on a daily basis, in order to be able to pick out what the trends are in the marketplace," he said.
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