Hopes festive feel rolls on

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Scaddan Merino breeder David Vandenberghe was hoping for a better season in 2021 working off a dry growing season which had him agisting sheep at Bannister, with optimism that fine wool will sell well.
Camera IconScaddan Merino breeder David Vandenberghe was hoping for a better season in 2021 working off a dry growing season which had him agisting sheep at Bannister, with optimism that fine wool will sell well. Credit: Bob Garnant/Countryman, Bob Garnant

Just days before Christmas, Scaddan Merino breeder David Vandenberghe was more than 550km from home keeping watch over a portion of his family’s flock on agistment at Bannister.

The Vandenberghes had a dry season, with only 150mm of rain recorded for the growing season.

While shearers took their handpieces for the first time to the Vandenberghes’ 1050 Wattle Dale stud mixed aged ewes with an average micron of 18, and 770 commercial wether lambs, Mr Vandenberghe was weighing his options.

“We may have to mate the ewes here on agistment if it doesn’t rain soon at home,” he said.

“We still have 5000 sheep at Scaddan with only three weeks of water in our dams. Water will be an issue for summer.”

Mr Vandenberge said last year they carted water from Norseman, 150km away.

Against a tough season, Mr Vandenberghe had confidence fine wool would sell well in 2021.

“There is less fine wool around, with the Eastern States having a better season that produces broader microns,” he said.

“There is quite a price spread between fine and broader microns.”

Mr Vandenberghe said woolgrowers in the east had been conscious of selecting broader-micron rams to put over their flocks because of higher meat values and lack of micron premium.

“I am thinking fine wool could be valued between 1000 and 1100¢/kg greasy, or up to 2000¢ clean,” he said.

“Our adult ewes cut an average 8kg of 18-micron fleece and the hoggets are quite fine in micron from a dry year.”

Mr Vandenberghe is geared up to get the 41 bales of wool shorn from the ewes to market through West Coast Wool and Livestock in mid-January.

“I have no idea of what the market will do,” he said.

“We also have to find a market for our wether lambs, which have gone through a tough year.”

Boddington shearing roustabouts Olivia and Autumn Treasure were having a woolly white Christmas at a Bannister woolshed with Wattle Dale wool on the table and only three sleeps to go.
Camera IconBoddington shearing roustabouts Olivia and Autumn Treasure were having a woolly white Christmas at a Bannister woolshed with Wattle Dale wool on the table and only three sleeps to go. Credit: Countryman

The Vandenberghes’ annual ram sale at Esperance on September 4 offered 140 rams and sold 93 for an average price of $991, down $429/head on the previous year when 240 rams sold for an average price of $1420.

“Clients had some very good selections of industry-leading rams and bought on good values,” Mr Vandenberghe said.

“Buyers selected rams with finer microns as prices are improving at the fine end, they will be happy with their purchases.”

“I am thinking fine wool could be valued between 1000 and 1100¢/kg greasy, or up to 2000¢ clean.”David Vandenberghe

He said the wool industry was relying on COVID-19 vaccines to work to get consumers and the industry back on track.

“People will look towards natural fibres, particularly with concerns of microfibre plastic in the environment,” he said.

“Conscious consumers know the product (wool) is good, they just need some confidence in their outlook.”

It was just days before Christmas when Wattle Dale sheep were being shorn by the team from Crackers Shearing Contractors.

Contractor Mark Buscomb said he was able to spread a bit of goodwill in fitting the Vandenberghes’ sheep into his busy schedule.

Top gun shearer Callum O’Brien, who had his first go at Esperance sheep, said the Wattle Dale ewes were clean cutters.

Meanwhile, roustabouts Olivia and Autumn Treasure were busy keeping up with four shearers and filling the bales.

The Vandenberghes and the Buscomb family all wish their clients a very Happy New Year in wool.

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