Peppers hot in Tasmania

Headshot of Bob Garnant
Bob GarnantCountryman

Mumballup superfine woolgrowers James and Faye Pepper are racking up the wins for WA in the Australian Superfine Wool Growers Association fleece competition.

The annual competition, held recently at the association’s 2016 conference in Tasmania, received more than 100 entries.

While the best overall superfine fleece was won by Victorian producers Russell and Penny Hartwich, who were awarded the Cleckheaton trophy, the Peppers were pleased to back up their 2014 first place win over all WA entries.

“We’re in it for the educational experience,” Mr Pepper said.

“Our membership to the association is very rewarding and allows some information gathering, particularly in regards to selecting genetics which perform the best in our particular environment.”

The Peppers have been breeding ultrafine Merinos for 25 years on their picturesque undulating property with spectacular views across the boundaries.

“We were initially influenced by former superfine stud breeder Peter Wheeler,” Mr Pepper said.

Although limited to their 24ha property and a few extra leased paddocks, what the Peppers lack in sheep numbers, they make up for in quality.

The couple run a very even line of 200 breeding ewes which average 15.5 micron and produce an average fleece weight of 3.8kg.

“Over the years we have selected to maintain micron, increase fleece weight and breed towards plainer bodies for ease of management,” Mr Pepper said.

“The flock has also responded well to a pampering of supplemented minerals and we are averaging 100 per cent lambing.

“We are also selecting rams for more poll content.”

The Peppers previously selected The Grange rams before using Misty Hills rams over the past 10 years.

“We are also trialling some genetics from Victorian ultrafine woolgrowers David and Susan Rowbottom, of Rowensville stud, whose fleece entries have won the prestigious Zegna Vellus Aureum trophy.”

The Peppers shear their Mumballview clip in October and have held back from sale three seasons of wool.

“We are holding on for better prices and have been disappointed with why ultrafine wool has not progressed in value over the last 20 years, but are more than pleased with our product,” Mr Pepper said.

The Peppers are subsidising their wool production with a portion of the flock bred to White Suffolk and Texel rams for crossbred lamb production.

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