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British Merino breeder spreads the word on wool and sustainability

Sheep Central, September 21, 2022

British Merino breeder Lesley Prior championed the sustainable and environmental values of wool at the 2022 Henty Machinery Field Days.

BRITISH Merino breeder Lesley Prior brought her message on sheep, wool, sustainability and technology to the Henty Machinery Field Days this week.

The Prior family is visiting Australia during the ram sale season to source the next round of genetics for their Tellenby Superfine Merino Stud based at Westcott Farm in Devon near south-west England’s Exmoor moorland.

Lesley runs the sheep farm while husband Roger and son Elliot run a multi-depot John Deere dealership covering the south-west of England selling agricultural and commercial/domestic grounds care equipment.

British Merino wool grower Lesley Prior speaks at the Henty Machinery Field Days.

During the Henty field days opening ceremony yesterday Lesley explained how she saw technology benefiting the sustainability of sheep farming and wool production.

“We all know that when done well, grazing sheep are part of the answer to our problems,” she said.

“But we have somehow to prove that to a sceptical world, which has often never been up and close with a wool jumper, let alone with a sheep … proving it needs facts, figures and detail.

“Gathering those facts and details and making decisions based on them is what technology is all about and it’s why Henty Machinery Fields Days is such an exciting event.”

Lesley is a councillor on The Campaign for Wool, established by His Majesty King Charles III when he was Prince Charles to raise awareness with events at the UK’s Wool Week and with key brands, retailers, educational establishments and the media.

She works with brands keen to buy European-grown wool to establish processing chains for the flock-to-garment story and has long had a vision of fostering growth in European Merino wool production.

The Tellenby operation now includes a flock of 16.5 micron superfine Merino sheep and a new more dual purpose flock of South Australian Merinos in development. The Tellenby stud has sold sheep into Switzerland and Romania and has orders from Austria and Spain. The stud has export accreditation to send Merinos to all European Union countries.

Lesley is the only non-Australian British member of the Australian Superfine Wool Growers Association and is an associate member of the Australia Stud Merino Breeders Association. She said The Campaign for Wool has been actively involved in work with the EU authorities over the new Product Environmental Footprint legislation.

Lesley has also been involved in many wool promotional events showcasing her Merinos at Saville Row in London, attending the European Outdoor Industries trade fair in Germany, and meeting and talking to influencers in the textile and fashion world, mainly answering questions from the grower’s angle.

She was most recently involved in a panel discussion event for European Civil Servants in Brussels, organised by the Australian Embassy and International Wool Textile Organisation.

At the University of Sydney day were, from left, Prof. Cameron Clark, Greg Sawyer, Lesley and Roger Prior, and Prof. Simon de Graaf.

Elders wool manager for Central Western New South Wales, Greg Sawyer, said Lesley Prior recently spoke to University of Sydney students during her visit to explain how she had addressed sustainability on her farm.

“She looks after her country impeccably; she has been able to grow the woodlands and the forest areas without impacting on her environmental footprint.”

He said the Tellenby operation had superfine and medium wool Merino breeding lines, initially using Australian genetics sent to the United Kingdom for research.

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