Wagin Woolorama: Fleece show gathers momentum

Headshot of Bob Garnant
Bob GarnantCountryman
Wagin Woolorama wool show steward Chris Piesse with a commercial fleece destined for the 51st competition.
Camera IconWagin Woolorama wool show steward Chris Piesse with a commercial fleece destined for the 51st competition. Credit: Bob Garnant/Countryman

Wagin Woolorama wool section steward Chris Piesse is counting on WA woolgrowers to showcase another exceptional selection of shorn fleeces and to show pride in what is “the best fibre in the world”.

The 51st Wagin Woolorama will be held on March 8 and 9 and Mr Piesse is hoping fleece entries are “on par” with the 150 showcased at last year’s 50th anniversary show.

Mr Piesse, who runs a Wagin mixed farming enterprise with 10,000 Merino sheep, said it was more important than ever for producers to share in this year’s theme “Let’s Get Together” — as the sheep industry goes through “tough times”.

“It’s the toughest its been since the early 90s, when we had the collapse of the reserve price scheme — it’s important to take this time to showcase what the wool industry is all about,” he said.

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“We have an opportunity to show our resilience, and to show people what we’re doing. Wool is a fantastic commodity, second to none of all the fibres. It’s very important we keep a brave face and get people together.”

He said fleece classes would include stud, commercial and local competitions and prizes would be handed out to top placers from the supporting sponsorship including Countrywide Insurance, Tanks West and Swinger Tags.

“Woolorama judging competitions bring excitement to all those who participate,” he said.

“It’s a time to celebrate stud and commercial achievements. The fleece show entries are always improving, with some bulging out of their wool boxes — much to the amazement of visitors who get to touch, feel and smell the wonderful fibre.”

The Piesse family will enter a commercial medium-wool fleece from their pet Merino, Basil, that produced a second-placed fleece last year.

“Basil’s newest fleece has improved overall quality, and at 6.5kg, it should bring home the blue ribbon,” Mr Piesse said.

His children — Lachlan, 12, and twins Ella and Max, 11, — hold Woolorama as the next best thing to Christmas time, and will share in the fun with their parents and relatives.

Mr Piesse said back at the family farm, the main shearing was nearly completed and about 650 wether lambs from last season were being fed for the butcher trade.

“One of the main issues for sheep producers, with the current lower prices, is it’s very hard to shift (sell-off) stock,” he said.

“We’ve run sheep for a long time and I can’t think of not having sheep around, but they can be less profitable versus crop when you consider land use.

“Wool prices have come off a bit, and when you’re paying more than $10/head to shear a sheep, and running them on up to 400ha of potential cropping country, it can be difficult to justify the sheep enterprise.”

He said woolgrowers may need to share some insight together and Woolorama was a perfect place to find momentum for this.

“I expect great support from the National and Liberal party members at Woolorama; they will have some important messages in this difficult time,” Mr Piesse said.

“The Labor Government’s policy to end the live export sheep trade is purely political and not in sync with the farming community — they don’t care.”

To find out more on the fleece show, contact Chris Piesse on 0418 470 113.

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