All shearer hands on deck amid shortage
Handpiece at the ready, the four-shearer team were a busy lot as they worked their way through a mob of 2200 Merino ewes at Tarin Rock.
With three shearers and a wool presser “on loan” from a Victorian contractor, Emma Morvel, the group shore about 600 head a day at the Willock family’s farm late last month.
Spencer Shearing Service owner Darren Spencer said it took four days for the team of four shearers, a wool classer and a wool presser to make their way through the job.
It’s a busy time on many farms, with producers smack in the middle of spring shearing.
“This is one of the busiest times of the year, along with the other busy times of January, February and March,” Mr Spencer said.
“It’s a traditional time to shear; a lot of people want to get it done before seed gets into the wool.
“We are all hands on deck ... we could do with another shearer or two, but there are just not enough out there.”
Mr Spencer’s team was hired to shear at the Willock’s Sunnydale property, which Ron and Christine Willock also farm with their two sons, Lindsay and Sam.
With a flock of 2200 Merino ewe and 1000ha of barley and lupins to keep them busy, Lindsay and his wife Tahlia also run 100 free-range chickens for eggs.
The family’s East Mundulla blood-line ewes are being mated with Dorper rams, with the aim of breeding fat lambs to cash in on good lamb prices.
“We shore a little bit earlier this year; we were a bit short of feed and really wanted to shift a few sheep,” Ron said. “We sold our wool at Fremantle, for an average of about $13/kg. We’ve never seen a price like $14/kg before.”
To fill the demand for shearers, Mr Spencer said he had borrowed workers from interstate.
“A contractor friend of mine had a bit of a break in her program ... she sent four shearers and a shedhand from Victoria,” he said.
Mr Spencer also serves as the WA Shearing Industry Association president.
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