Grazing Land Management

Victorian wool operation wins at sustainability awards

Sheep Central, October 11, 2019

Nicole Finnigan, right, with the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio at the Premier’s Sustainability Awards last night.

A FAMILY-OWNED fine wool operation in south-west Victoria has won its category in the state’s prestigious Premier’s Sustainability Awards.

The Finnigan’s family’s Kia Ora Merino won in the small/medium business category and also received the Premier’s Regional Recognition Award.

Kia Ora Merino was acknowledged in the awards for their sustainable wool production through reducing chemical use, sowing permanent pastures and slowing or stopping runoff into rivers.

“It’s a great time for the wool industry and we are so proud to be a part of it.

“So many farmers doing wonderful things for the environment and our industry,” the family posted on their Facebook page.

“Wear more wool.”

Kia Ora Merino at Winslow near Warrnambool is run by Brendan and Susan Finnigan, their son James and wife Nicole. They are aiming for their Merino flock to be carbon neutral by 2025 with the benefits of extensive revegetation along water courses through their property. They also have a strong focus on sheep welfare and are members of welfare and management assurance programs such the international Responsible Wool Standard and Authentico schemes and Australia’s SustainaWOOL.

James and Nicole Finnigan accepted the awards in Melbourne last night, proud that a conservative family farm following best practice could be recognised as sustainable.

The Finnigans shear 10,000 sheep cutting sub-18 micron wool. The two year-old ewes generally cut about 5.5kg for a 10-month shearing and older sheep average just over 6kgs for 12 months. The Finnigans also trade 200-300 cattle annually. They breed plain-bodied sheep that do not require mulesing and are not prone to flystrike leading to reduction in sheep chemical usage. No inorganic fertiliser is used on the steep land along the rivers.

Rivers have been fenced and banks well grassed essentially ceasing nutrient and sediment runoff. Pasture cover is kept to at least 90pc and mass above a total of 1000 kg DM/ha which also ensures the surface movement of water, nutrients and soil is negligible.

Native trees are planted annually and there has been a huge increase in biodiversity with increased species of birds.

The Finnigan family.

Susan Finnigan said a wool operation winning the award reflected well on the industry and would help boost the operation’s environmental credentials.

“Our farmers should be proud of what they do.”

But she said the welfare credentials of Australia’s wool industry needed to be improved.

“The image of Australian wool producers has to be improved and we need to get that behind us, because they do such a good job.”

The top honour in the awards went to Enable Social Enterprises for their work in helping disadvantaged jobseekers connect with their community and environment to gain employment.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio presented the Premier’s Recognition Award to Enable at a ceremony in Melbourne last night.

Ms D’Ambrosio congratulated all the winners and said she is confident they would inspire more Victorians to do their bit and become advocates for a cleaner, healthier environment.

“It’s inspiring to see such passionate and inspirational people, dedicated to delivering social, economic and environmental benefits for Victoria.”

Celebrating its 17th year, the Premier’s Sustainability Awards is Victoria’s highest profile sustainability awards program across business, government, health, education, volunteering and community.

For a full list of this year’s winners visit


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