Rain adds shine to sale

Melissa WilliamsCountryman

It was a double win for Jerome and Emily Hardie’s Broomehill-based Wallinar stud last week, when seven bales of 16.9 micron wool reached the top five highest prices at the Fremantle auction and a long-awaited cold front arrived to kick-start seeding.

As part of the family’s 2010–11 woolclip went under the hammer last Wednesday, they started seeding at Broomehill on the back of a small shower that was followed up by 20mm of rain on Thursday.

Jerome said the rain had ended the property’s worst dry spell on record and he was excited to be into his cropping program and receive a much-needed boost to pasture production.

Wallinar will celebrate 100 years of stud Merino breeding this year, and the stud’s commitment to producing deep crimping, even, strong and high lustre wools with a super-soft handle has paid off on the auction floor.

Primaries of WA wool manager Tim Chapman said the Hardie family’s annual clip had always attracted strong buying competition and this year was no exception.

He said the 88 bales offered by Wallinar last week were keenly sought-after by buyers representing Italian, Japanese and Chinese mills and would be used in fine wool garments.

Wallinar topped the Primaries catalogue with a line of 16.9 micron wool that sold for 1542c/kg, just short of Fremantle’s top price of 1572c/kg.

Overall, the Wallinar clip averaged $1953 per bale (sweep the floor).

Tim said fine wools picked up 20 to 30c/kg and mid-range microns 45 to 50c/kg at the Fremantle sale, as lower volumes for sale and strong demand continued to kick the market along.

Jerome’s father, Mervyn Hardie, inspected the Wallinar auction offering prior to the sale.

He said wool production was a profitable proposition for WA farmers at current prices, especially if they ran sheep that were easy care, plain bodied and grew long, even quality wools.

Mervyn said Wallinar’s breeding system had focused on sheep skin biology for many years to produce wools that had primary fibres with a low fibre diameter, high density of follicles per skin centimetre and long staple length.

When wool follicle groups are packed closely together, the fibres become highly aligned, even sized and appear in the fleece as ‘fibre bundles’.

Mervyn said these wools were longer, less prone to breakage and contained fewer short fibres, which boosted processing efficiency and downstream profits.

“Because there are a lot of fibres per centimetre of skin, these wools are deceptively heavy cutting, yet have a genetically lower fibre diameter, ” he said.

The Hardie’s young Wallinar and Brickhouse (prem shorn) stud-bred sheep produce about four kilograms per head of wool with an average fibre diameter of 16.5 to 17 micron, staple length of about 70mm and staple strength of 40 to 45 Newtons/kilotex.

Grown sheep are cutting about 6kg/head of 19.5 micron wool with an average staple strength of 37 to 49N/ktex and yields of about 70 per cent — while also producing lambs.

The Hardies have been rebuilding their commercial Merino flock in a bid to boost current numbers of about 5000 head.

“We are excited about the future of the wool industry, ” Jerome said.

“We have great genetics that are capable of giving us highly productive sheep that we believe boost our returns by at least 20 per cent compared with WA wools of similar micron because of the good balance between cut, quality and fibre diameter.”

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

Sign up for our emails