Thrilled to meet a Wool grower from Australia
- By: "Prime" Ag News
- Ag Tech News
- Aug 13, 2020
- 206 views
Wool producers, Jodie and Andrew Green, are well ahead of the game when it comes to meeting the growing demands of consumers who want assurance that their food and fibre comes from farms with high animal welfare standards.
The owners of Aloeburn Merino Stud at Boree Creek in the Riverina, Jodie and Andrew breed sheep to grow wool that meets the exacting standards of clothing brands using ethically produced wool.
“We breed our sheep in such a way that they are born to grow and thrive in our Australian environment,” Jodie said.
The plain bodied, dual-purpose Poll Merinos don’t need to be mulesed, in fact the practice has been obsolete in the operation since Andrew’s father began the sheep breeding program in 2006.
“They aren’t susceptible to flystrike so we don’t need to constantly use chemicals,” Jodie said.
“Last year, at a conference in Vancouver, I met processors and fabric manufacturers and clothing manufacturers from around the world who have sustainability policies to address the ethical sustainability of their clothing. "
They were all absolutely thrilled to meet a wool grower from Australia who lives and breathes that it’s possible to breed sheep that don’t need to be mulesed.”
In the past eight years, Aloeburn has grown from 2,000 breeding Poll Meriono ewes running on 2,800 hectares to 6,500 breeding ewes on 6,880 hectares.
Their total wool production in a year is in excess of 60 tonne, which is sold to their broker, Fox and Lillie, who are able to put together large parcels of non-mulesed wool from Australian growers to meet the demands of manufacturers.
Some of their wool has also been sold through contracts with high end clothing brands overseas.
“One of the brands we have been involved with is Eileen Fisher, a women’s apparel company based in New York. Their philosophy is to produce high-end woollen garments from sheep that have not been mulesed and have been raised with very high standards for animal welfare and the ethical treatment of animals,” Jodie said.
“They even had one of their representatives come out to our farm so she could see what we do and go back and tell our story.”
It’s a story that will continue for generations to come if the current family members have their way.
“Our son, Tom, joined us on the farm at the beginning of this year and my father-in-law still comes to work most days, so it’s three generations working together,” Jodie said.
“We love the land and we love our animals. We want to work constantly to improve what we do and to care for the land so that we have a farming and grazing business that can sustain our family and the people of Australia for generations to come.”
That’s something they will continue to strive for, even when faced with challenges such as COVID-19.
“COVID-19 is world-wide and the world economy is suffering. People aren’t going out, people aren’t buying new clothes. The demand for our product has dropped enormously and that’s how we are feeling the pain,” Jodie said.
“The wool market is in an enormous slump and we have no prospects of it improving for the rest of this year.
“But on a day-to-day level here on the farm, it hasn’t made any difference, we just keep doing what we have to do, looking after the animals and sowing the crops.
“The sheep are still growing wool, they still have to be shorn, and they need to be cared for in the same way. “
And with work on the farm continuing as usual, Jodie said COVID-19 had had little impact on their personal lives.
“We have respected the protocols in place for COVID-19, but on a day-to-day basis we don’t see many people anyway,” she added.
“I cannot comprehend how difficult it must be for people living in urban areas who have had to be locked down and confined to a house and small garden or just a unit.”
On the bright side, Jodie said farmers across Australia are continuing with business as usual and there was no doubt that they could keep on feeding all Australians.
"Farmers are raising their animals and sowing their crops so our food production is continuing,” she said.