IN THE NEWS: Australian superfine wool: Animal welfare stressed

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IN THE NEWS: On NOV 17, 2016

ITALIAN miller Vitale Barberis Canonico is paying a 10 per cent premium for non-mulesed wool.

Speaking at their annual wool excellence celebration last week, VBC raw material buying manager Davide Fontaneto told his superfine suppliers it came down to consumer perception.

“More and more they are taking notice of sustainability, in particular animal welfare,” he said.

“We must communicate that your animals are happy, and that you are doing your best to provide them with the best possible life.

“I am very sorry to say that from abroad Australia is seen as a place that sheep are cruelly treated, because of a lack of legislation that is still to be brought up to the standards of today’s social beliefs.”

Mr Fontaneto urged the growers, part of a VBC wool excellence club, for feedback on the needs of superfine growers in Australia — and VBC would do the same.

“That is one of the aims of the wool excellence club, to give real feedback about how things are going in the world and what our customers want,” Mr Fontaneto said.

VBC buyer Andrew Raeber, from New England Wool, backed up Mr Fontaneto’s calls to consider the future.

“If VBC pays a 10 per cent premium for non-mulesed wool, on top of the already generous contract price, that is a direct reaction to the ­increase of the demand for fabric made from non-mulesed sheep,” he said.

“I also know that New Zealand and South Africa are getting a slight fiscal advantage in the market, because the perception is they have more nonmulesed wool.

“Now is the perfect time for you people to start thinking about it, maybe even have a control flock … something that is not going to have a big ­impact, stop mulesing and see what it means for your business.”

Mr Raeber advised growers to remember market specifications in the coming year — such as clip length — because of bumper seasonal conditions.

“Keep an eye on the length, keep a bit of flexibility, maybe talk to your shearers and see if they can come a month early.

“The other problem, of course, will be vegetable matter; there is a lot of grass around, it is all going to go to seed, it will be hard to control … when it comes to preparation of your clip, skirt it hard, you are better off having more VM in your skirt, backs and necks than your fleece.”

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