Enjoying a good ride on the sheep's back

Happy: Wool producer Ross Quail from Woorndoo near Mortlake says most wool microns are currently producing good returns.
Happy: Wool producer Ross Quail from Woorndoo near Mortlake says most wool microns are currently producing good returns.

Wool producer Ross Quail is counting himself lucky after selling wool in early March when wool prices had reached one its recent peaks.

Mr Quail, of Woorndoo, north of Mortlake, gained 1661 cents a kilogram in Melbourne for a seven bale line of 17.7 micron merino wool.

Prices dropped for similar micron wool soon after his sale only to shoot back up again.

“It was right in the heart of the biggest (price) rise,” Mr Quail said of his recent sale.

The 1661c/kg was at least 50 per cent higher than the price he received for similar micron wool last year, he said.

“It’s been a huge jump in 12 months,” he said.

Mr Quail said current wool prices were best “across the board” result he had seen in his more than 30 years as a wool producer.

He said fine wool producers had enjoyed good prices in the early 2000s but the current run of prices were benefiting producers of a wide spread of wool microns except for cross bred wools.

“Most merinos (wools) have done well,” Mr Quail said.

The current boom was also delivering a good price premium for 17 micron wool above that of 20 micron wool, he said.

“There’s now a big gap (in prices) between finer and medium wools,” Mr Quail said.

He runs about 1500 merinos at “Woorndoo Park” that average about 18 micron. 

He shears a number of times a year with the main shearing in February.

Mr Quail said good sheep meat prices, low grain prices and the good autumn break were adding to the halcyon time for sheep producers.

“Grain prices are so low, we can increase production.

“We have been feeding more grain. The margin for feeding more grain is much better,” Mr Quail said.

The good returns had prompted him to increase sheep numbers in future, he said.

Mr Quail said a shortage of supply was underpinning the high wool prices.

New fashion trends utilising more wool had prompted stronger demand for the fleece from Chinese processors, he said.

Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) said last week’s stunning hike in wool prices after two weeks of rapidly diminishing levels was largely expected.

AWI said recent history showed that moves of this scale were not always sustainable, particularly in a growing supply year.

 AWI said the erratic price movements in recent weeks indicated wool buyers and exporters “had their fingers on the pulse of the sentiment of their major clients” and that buyers from Chinese wool processors preferred to do so in a risk-averse “hand to mouth” manner.