Dubbo wool broker makes mulesing declaration compulsory

Terry Sim, January 13, 2020

Dubbo wool broker and AWI director Don Macdonald at the Balmoral Sire Evaluation Group’s 2019 field day.

AUSTRALIA’S wool brokers are being urged to support the initiative of Dubbo company Macdonald and Co to make the National Wool Declaration a condition of sale for grower-owned and classed clips.

The NWD is an important document on which growers declare the welfare status of a clip, including whether the sheep shorn were mulesed with or without pain relief, were non-mulesed, or in a flock that has ceased mulesing.

The NWD is incorporated into the wool classer specification as the first step in traceability. It captures critical flock information on a mob basis which is conveyed onto a test certificate and then into a sale catalogue, allowing buyers to source wool according to its welfare status.

Macdonald and Co. Woolbrokers managing director, Don Macdonald, said as of this week the company had made a compliant NWD a condition of sale for all grower-owned and classed clips.

“I believe that traceability – whether it is mulesed or non-mulesed (wool) – is an important aspect right at the beginning of the pipeline.”

The Dubbo-based wool broker is the first company to make the NWD a condition of sale for wool in an effort to lift the national completion rate for NWD’s, which is currently at about 73 percent.

“I’m using this as a wedge to put pressure on other brokers.

“To really have any impact we’ve got to get pressure on the West Australians – to get it from 70pc to 90pc we would have to get the west to lift its adoption rates from around 40pc to 80pc,” he said.

Mr Macdonald said his company would present its first catalogue of fully NWD-compliant grower-owned wool in the auctions in Sydney tomorrow.

“We are saying one hundred percent of our P certificate wools, that is grower-owned and classed, will not be offered for sale unless we have a compliant NWD.

“There will be wool in our catalogue with no NWD because they are bulk-classed wool, traded wools or unclassed clips,” he said.

Mr Macdonald said the company would offer about 600 bales at auction tomorrow. He said the company clients’ NWD adoption rate has been around 90pc for a long time and only four growers had to be followed to complete NWDs for this week’s catalogue. All Macdonald clients were advised of the change before Christmas last year.

“We haven’t had any pushpack at all; it just means there is a little bit extra legwork that has to be done and hopefully it will become common practise.

“We’ve only got to work on 10pc, others might have to work on a higher figure.”

Move supported by AWEX and Schneider

Australian Wool Exchange CEO, Mark Grave, said that since 2008 the NWD has provided the Australian wool industry with a traceable document that provides valuable information for Australian wool customers. He said the significant initiative by Macdonald & Co. Woolbrokers is testament to the future direction of the wool industry and the increasing importance of traceability enhancing wool’s reputation.

“I would like to see all brokers take this initiative.

“Many would already be close, with most in the eastern states at close to 80 percent (NWD compliance) or above,” Mr Grave said.

The National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia is yet to support the NWD becoming a condition of sale, but NCWSBA president John Colley said the body believed all growers should be filling the document out.

In a statement last week, Mr Macdonald said the NWD commitment comes firstly, in the wake of strong and growing international buyer and consumer demand for full wool traceability – that is, knowing wool’s story from farm to consumer and, secondly, from the clear competitive advantage afforded to growers by providing required information to a market environment increasingly driven by the conscious consumer.

Mr Macdonald said the evidence the company had collected suggested buyers will appreciate guaranteed NWD compliance.

“We’ve received a very strong message from our downstream customers that, from the shop rack back to farm, the pipeline is looking for full traceability.

G.Schneider Australia managing director Tim Marwedel the company applauded the initiative taken by Macdonald & Co. in assuring Schneider and its customers that the first step in a fully traceable and transparent wool pipeline is complete.

“We urge other wool brokers in Australia to follow this lead and progress the Australian woolclip towards 100pc NWD compliance.”

Mr Macdonald believed it is very much in growers’ interests to fill in the NWD and have it shown in the catalogue as declared to increase buyer competition.

“We also believe it’s just the right thing to do.

“Nationally only around 70pc of the wool clip is NWD compliant, but we think the advantages for Australian wool are obvious and we’d urge other wool brokers to pick up the baton and work toward full industry compliance.”


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  1. Jack Cleary, April 29, 2020

    Making a declaration is one thing….doing what one claims in the declaration, and to all the lambs is very much another. Higher returns demand better proof than a declaration in my view.

    The mulesed sheep must in my opinion receive implanting which identifies the mulesing as well as a photographic record being kept. In other words, making the system work a lot better than asking that a declaration be accepted.

  2. Robin Smith, April 15, 2020

    Good on you Don. You’ve shown the industry the path, let’s hope other brokers follow.

  3. Jim Gordon, January 13, 2020

    Great article Sheep Central. AWEX, don’t loose your global standing. Pain relief (PR) — everyone understands what this is. Sadly it has been changed to AA, madness.
    Now there are moves to bring in freeze branding, clips, and intradermal injections as non-mulesed. Talk about smoke and mirrors.
    If skin wrinkle around the breech area needs to be removed by other means than shears, then declare it as a separate category — BWR, Breech Wrinkle Removed. Be up front, be truthful. Make it easy for the trade. Leave the NM for wool that has only come from sheep that have no modifications to their breech area.

  4. Jodie Green, January 13, 2020

    Hear hear! The accurate use of the NWD should be enforced and should be unambiguous in certifying NM as not mulesed and meaning no breech modification, to uphold the integrity of our industry.

  5. Chick Olsson, January 13, 2020

    At last, some excellent leadership. Well done Don, brilliant to see this.

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