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Wet wool will cost farmers and shearers

Farmers and shearers could face large bills if they shear sheep with wet wool, say WoolPro and the Federation of New Zealand Wool Merchants.

FNZWM president Grant Lloyd says for the good of the wool industry, farmers should ensure wool is properly dry before shearing.

Financial claims from buyers could be very substantial, especially if the wool was shipped overseas unscoured. A recent claim for three bales of wet wool exported to China was for several thousand US dollars, he says.

The Code of Practice for Clip Preparation, which is a core component of wool industry quality assurance in New Zealand, states that damp or wet wool should not be shorn, says WoolPro quality systems manager Kelvin Whall.

“Wool shorn and pressed while wet can change colour significantly between testing and the buyers receiving it overseas. The wool rots and stains, and the colour won’t scour out,” he says.

“A buyer would then have wool they couldn’t use, and would make a claim to the merchants.

“In serious cases, rotting wet wool can cause bales to heat to the point of smouldering, a potential fire hazard in storage or transport.”

WoolPro classer registration committee member, and Canterbury shearing contractor Kerry Nolan says sometimes the problem occurs when farmers are under pressure to shear their sheep before lambing.

Shearing contractors could be under pressure to complete a flock, even though the last 150 sheep might have been caught in the rain, he says.

Mr Lloyd says a few irresponsible farmers shear wool wet to increase the bale weights.

“These malpractices are not easily detected and can have far-reaching results,” Mr Lloyd says.

“Merchants want to recover that money from the farmer or the shearing contractor responsible.”

Mr Nolan says shearing contractors asked to shear wet sheep should refuse or, if they do shear wet sheep, should get the farmer to sign a note to say the shearing contractor is not responsible for the condition of the wool.

“If the shearing contractor is responsible for the wet wool, they will face the claim. If the farmer is responsible, they will face the claim.”

Poor storage conditions for wool – such as in a haybarn – could also be a reason for wool getting wet, he says.

“My advice to farmers is get your sheep shorn early.”

Mr Lloyd says wool merchants are considering getting some type of guarantee from farmers that their wool is dry.

[ends]

For more information, contact:
Kerry Nolan, Tel 03-358 5162 or Grant Lloyd, Tel 03-308 0150

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