MULES-FREE farming from the Merino to the market will be covered in a workshop at Marnoo on April 1.
The workshop on April 1 aims to give sheep farmers the tools they need to farm without mulesing.
The Mules Free Farming workshop is being hosted on the Carter family’s Wallaloo Park property at Marnoo.
This workshop will cover everything from the science behind moving away from mulesing to practical advice for making the switch as well as the potential markets and premiums for non-mulesed wool.
The day will be a practical, hands-on experience to demonstrate the differences between the type of sheep required to remove the need for breech modification.
The workshop will be led by Dr Mark Ferguson from neXtgen Agri, New Zealand. Dr Ferguson, one of New Zealand’s leading sheep production research scientists, will present “the science, the fly and the sheep – what do we know, what should we do?”
“After living in New Zealand for nine years and working for New Zealand Merino Company I’ve seen the range of positive benefits for growers that have ceased mulesing, from more robust animals to marketing their wool to the world’s leading brands,” Dr Ferguson said.
“This workshop will be a great opportunity to get your questions answered from a range of industry experts while networking with like-minded sheep breeders.”
Dr Ferguson said it would be a practical workshop designed to answer questions and arm farmers with the tools to farm without breech modification.
In addition to Dr Ferguson, the program will include a number of speakers from across Australia.
Dr Steve Cotton from Dynamic Ag will provide practical advice on worm and dag management.
Matt Hand from ZQ Merino and Tim Button from AWN will outline Responsible Wool Standards certification requirements and contract options for non-mulesed wool.
“While less than 10 percent of (Australian) growers are currently certified, that figure is increasing as benefits emerge for non-mulesed wool growers with the highest certifications in the world giving them maximum competition of their clip at direct sale or auction,” Mr Hand said.
Alistair Calvert from Wool Solutions will speak on the market for non-mulesed wool, which he predicts will grow substantially.
“A lot of brands appealing to younger generations are choosing to use wool again and their clientele are demanding non-mulesed.
“It’s only a very small proportion at the moment, but absolutely there is a market for it,” he said.
Mr Calvert said he didn’t want to enter a political discussion about mulesing.
“It’s not for me to say we should or we shouldn’t; that’s for individual growers. All I can do is deliver the message that I’m hearing from our retail partners and share the exciting opportunities that present to wool growers if they go non-mulesed.”
Wallaloo Park stopped mulesing about three years ago and Mr Carter said the change worked for his business.
“It’s different for everyone depending on their business goals and environment, but since making the change, we can see there are so many long-term benefits for our business,” he said.
“Since we ceased mulesing, the market opportunities and premiums for non-mulesed wool have continued to grow, increasing the incentive for commercial producers to make the shift.
“We are holding the day to encourage an open discussion about one of the many challenges that the merino industry faces in meeting the demands of the modern consumer,” he added.
The workshop is a free event and will be held on Friday April 1 starts at 1:00pm at Wallaloo Park, 4065 Stawell-Donald Road, Marnoo, Vic
Registration is essential at www.nextgenagri.com/events
Further information: [email protected]