Prince gets into superfine spirit

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Prince Charles visited a Tasmanian sheep farm last week in a bid to promote the Campaign for Wool while in Australia.

Established in 2010, the Campaign for Wool is run by a coalition of industry groups including Australian Wool Innovation and is convened by The Prince of Wales.

Prince Charles' passion for wool shone through while watching the Thornbury family's Leenavale superfine wethers being mustered and shorn.

The enthusiastic prince even threw a fleece onto the classing table to get into the buzz of the wool shed activities.

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Brent Thornbury and his family now own one of the most valuable fleeces ever thrown by a member of the British royal family.

"We put the fleece aside with the thought of preserving the historical event," he said.

Brent said the prince was well versed in Australian wool, because he spent part of his youth working on an outback station.

"He knew what he was talking about and was very interested in our superfine wool," Brent said.

Brent, his brother Jason and their father, Kevin, run 12,000 sheep, and manage a Merino superfine stud and a fine wool Poll Merino stud on two properties. The home farm is at Sorell, near Hobart. The other leased property in Fulham produces 18-micron Merinos.

Brent said he had used East Strathglen and Coromandel genetics out of WA for part of the breeding program.

The Leenavale annual superfine wool clip averages 16.5 microns. "The 10-year average price return for superfine wool has been a little ragged, it needs a lift," Brent said.

He said the few growers who still remained with superfine wool were counting on the Campaign for Wool to have an influence in creating more demand for the fibre.

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