Wagin time to celebrate

Headshot of Bob Garnant
Bob GarnantCountryman
Email Bob Garnant

As the WA sheep and wool industry centres on Wagin Woolorama this week, there is good cause to celebrate as prices have mostly remained at 20-year highs for the past 12 months.

Wool is now holding around 1200 cents/kg clean with last week's AWEX Regional Indicators finishing 0.7 per cent higher at sales in Newcastle, Melbourne and Fremantle.

For Jack Lewis and his family, who run the Lewisdale-Corrigin flock, reaching 915c/kg greasy for seven bales of 19.2 micron wool with an average comfort factor of 98.2 was the icing on the cake of a much improved season last year.

Westcoast Wools agent Brad Faithful said the Lewis family's clip was described as good to best top making wool.

"It was our best price in some 20 years," Mr Lewis said. "We had been battling with dry conditions but we survived."

He said the sheep were back from agistment and the hoggets were cutting 6.4kg/head.

"We will be classing 400 ram lambs in readiness for the stud's sale," Mr Lewis said.

The Lewis family is also rebuilding numbers of Merinos in anticipation that world shortages of wool and meat will create higher demand.

Cameron Beeck, of Katanning, also offered wool last week from his family's Dohne sheep clip.

The Beecks run an 80:20 crop/sheep program and have converted their Merino flock to pure Dohne to gain a more productive meat/wool ratio.

"We run 2500 ewes and sell our lambs into the saleyards," Mr Beeck said.

"We have also begun bi-annual matings - lambing in the spring and again in April to increase our cash flow."

He said the Dohne's high fertility rate allowed for optional mating intervals.

The Beeks reached a top price of 857c/kg for eight bales of 19 micron wool shorn from wether and ewe lambs.

The National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia executive director Chris Wilcox said the national sheep flock was set to increase steadily over the next five years.

He said Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) predicted sheep numbers would jump by 4 per cent to 77.4 million head in 2012.

"The rise over subsequent years is predicted to reach 82.7 million head by 2016, an aggregate increase of 11 per cent," Mr Wilcox said.

"Wool production is likely to increase by around 7-9 per cent over the next five years, to around 375-380mkg greasy."

Meanwhile, Australian Wool Industries Secretariat's Peter Morgan said widespread rains in New South Wales and Victoria appeared certain to delay shearing in some areas.

"This will affect auction offerings for some weeks," Dr Morgan said.

He said price rises three weeks ago had flushed out more wool and this week's offerings were up to 52,367 bales.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails