Fourth generation Saxon flock family wins VBC wool award

Sheep Central, October 28, 2019

At the VBC Wool Excellence award winner were, from left, Phoebe Croyle, Davide Fontaneto, Jack Barber, Alberto Barberis Canonico, Jess Barber and Duncan Barber.

CENTRAL Victorian Saxon Merino flock Coliban Park has won the prestigious annual Vitale Barberis Canonico Wool Excellence Award for the first time.

VBC principal Alberto Barberis Canonico and the company’s raw procurement manager Davide Fontaneto presented Duncan and Jess Barber, and their son Jack, with the award at The Prince Deck Melbourne last night.

The award comes with a $50,000 cash prize and an all-expenses paid trip to the Biella region of Italy to see their wool transformed into high quality fabric using state-of-the-art technology and to meet VBC representatives.

Mr Barber is also the 16.5 micron paddock-grown clip’s classer and said it was great to be recognised for the dedication and hard work in growing Saxon wool.

“It’s a hard product to grow and really for not much return in comparison to that from heavier-cutting wools.

“You’ve got to love it and you have got to be dedicated to it.”

Four generations of the Barber family have grown Saxon wool on the Coliban Park property. The current generation runs more than 27,000 Saxon sheep with bloodlines linking directly back to the Australian foundation flocks of John Aitken and Eliza Forlong’s flocks.

“This is our passion, growing Saxon wool, as it was my father’s and his father before him.

“This is an amazing way to have that passion and dedication recognized,” Mr Barber said.

Coliban Park is situated 46 kilometres south of Bendigo at Elphinstone and its 5260 hectares has run up to 30,000 sheep. It is currently operated by Duncan and Jess Barber, with the help of their four children when they’re home from school – Jack, 16, Rosie, 15, Maggie, 9, and Polly, 6.

Coliban Park was acquired by Anthony Barber in 1917 and already had a well-established Saxon flock. The sheep had been purchased in 1859 from John Aitken of Mount Aitken and can be directly traced back to Eliza Furlong and the Elector of Saxony.

“The sheep have been here since long before we arrived at Coliban Park.

“We are only custodians of their property,” Mr Barber said.

At the award dinner, Mr Fontaneto told VBC Wool Excellence Club members from New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, and industry representatives that the Barber clip is among the biggest in terms of quantity.

It also displays the typical of real Saxon wool, he said, with its high and frequent crimp, full-bodied handle, which is elastic, reactive and resistant when squeezed.

“It is what we’re expecting from a Wool Excellence Club Saxon clip, with thick staple and in a certain way noisy, because when held to the ear while unravelling the wool staple, the sound mimics that of shoes walking over fresh snow.

“It is well classed and with perfect length,” Mr Fontaneto said.

He said the Barber family has been very enthusiastic about their membership in the WEC since their inclusion.

“They managed to improve the production of this type of wool, working hard on breeding and endeavouring to get their wool even closer to the high VBC Saxon standards.

“Not only in terms of quality but also in quantity: they recently purchased a new property (Spring Hill/Z) and seriously took into account the strong animal welfare message coming from the market by pursuing non-mulesed status on this new property, which is really important today.”

To be eligible for the award, growers must be members of the VBC Wool Excellence Club. Members are specially selected by VBC using strict criteria and must demonstrate sustainable wool production and notably the attributes of superfine Saxon Merino wool.

All members of the Vitale Barberis Canonico Wool Excellence Club need to be accredited under the SustainaWOOL Integrity Scheme, now managed by the Australian Wool Exchange.

For more than 355 years, the wool mill of VitaleBarberis Canonico has been creating prestigious textiles for the clothing industry in the historical factory in Pratrivero, Piedmont, Italy. Vitale Barberis Canonico employs more than 455 staff, has 40 agents throughout the world, and produces fabrics from two state-of-the-art factories in the Biella region. In 2018, VBC production reached 11.7 million metres, and the turnover rose to €185 million, up from €170m in 2017.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


Get Sheep Central's news headlines emailed to you -