special wool edition from your peak body

Photo by James Braszell, shearer and photographer based in Ballarat

This is the cover of his 2016 calendar, on-sale now for 20 dollars +P&H, #JamesBraszellPhotography, on Facebook & Instagram    JamesBraszelPhotography@gmail.com or ph 0437 006 846 



Welcome to this special wool edition of The Sheep Producer

In this edition : 

  • Your chance to influence
  • Nominees for Independent Director positions on WPA Board
  • Message from WPA President Richard Halliday
  • Mulesing alternative - Skin Traction update
  • Young Talent - Kallum Blake, Katanning WA
  • Foot and Mouth - do you know what to look for in sheep?
  • Ram Sales and Ovine Brucellosis
  • New blueprint to guide SA sheep industry growth
  • Ram Select success
  • TFGA speak about the strain specific footrot vaccine
  • AWI Director election

We are planning for the next newsletter months in advance, and welcome your input and request for content: click here


Your Chance to Influence

There are two big opportunities to influence your wool industry. 

WPA Independent Director Election

WPA recently called for nominations for this year’s Independent Director Election. Four people have put their names forward for three positions, incumbents Steve Harrison, Charlie Merriman and Max Watts along with Jamie Rowe.

There are two alternative methods to vote - either as a direct member of WPA or, as a member of an SFO.  Independent membership, until recently was unique to WPA in terms of peak industry bodies; Cattle Council of Australia has since adopted a similar model, which provides a unique and truly representative model for the wool industry and is a key feature in our value proposition to grass root members as it allows them to have a direct say in who represents them at a national level.

It is extremely pleasing that WPA is having a contested election, as it is a sign of a healthy organisation by demonstrating that people are interested enough to get involved in shaping the future direction of the industry.

Ballot papers will be sent to eligible wool growers on 14 October and closing on 13 November, with results announced at the WPA AGM on 18 November.

If you are interested in becoming a direct member of WoolProducers Australia please contact the WPA office on 02 4836 7369 or email here 


Steven Harrison -  A wool grower for 29 years, I have a commercially viable flock and a Merino Stud in Gippsland, Victoria. I am a VFF Livestock Councilor and woolclasser. I have been an independent director of WPA for two terms and have served under three presidents. The current committee has the strongest motivation to improve profitability for all woolgrowers.

I see it as vital that the wool industry improves profitability and lifts the merino ewe base.  This will help woolgrowers and production of the prime lamb industry.  I see WoolProducers, in consultation with AWI, as an avenue to stimulate ideas in marketing and research and help with direction to assist the industry grow and prosper.

Charlie Merriman - I have been an independently elected Director since 2005 and my main duties as a Director of Wool Producers Australia have been involved with the Sheep Johne's Program and recently with Federation of Australian Wool Organisation (FAWO) as the WPA representative.

As a representative for WPA I have been involved in discussions with Animal Health Australia on many issues that arise that effects farms and farm production of livestock, such as the still ongoing discussions about OJD and BJD.  My focus is to keep it beneficial, practical and user friendly to assist those who have the responsibility of managing and caring for farm animals and managing the bio-security on all farms.

Jamie Rowe - I have a lot of practical experience within the wool industry that I could bring to WoolProducers Board and I have a driving passion to improve the wool industry for the future.  I began managing the family sheep farm in Franklin, WA in 1989 where I became a shearer for 13 years and also began my career as a livestock contractor which I have continued into NSW, moving in 2011 where I currently own a sheep property on the Monaro.

I have been a member of the Livestock Contractor Association since 2004 which I am the current President.

Max Watts - With my wife and two sons we run a mixed farming business 160kms Southeast of Perth, WA, including 12,000 Merinos for wool and meat products and 2,000Ha of crops – oats, barley and canola.I’m a strong supporter of on-farm RD&E as I feel this assists producers to reduce our cost of production and increase returns.

We have used a number of such items to assist our business, including the pilot projects for LTEM and drench resistance; blood and liver biopsies to determine levels of selenium chips required on farm; objective clip preparation and EBVs.  I am happy to discuss any of the above issues and take any issues forward.

WoolPoll 2015

2015 provides wool growers with an opportunity to again have their say in determining the amount of levy they pay to invest in research, development and marketing. Voting opened on 14 September and closes 30 October, 2015.

Eligible growers can choose their preference from the following options: 0%; 1%; 2%; 2.5% or 3%.

The levy spent on industry research and development is matched by the Commonwealth Government on a dollar for dollar basis, although marketing spend in not matched by federal funds. The current split for R&D to marketing is 40:60 which is determined by the AWI Board. More information here



photo by: James Braszell

WPA President's Message  

Richard Halliday

The wool industry is currently going through a very important time with a number of key industry events occurring that will impact on the future direction of our industry and I urge all eligible wool growers to participate in these events.

WoolProducers Australia is currently conducting its independent director election. This happens every two years and provides the unique opportunity for grass root growers to have their say in who represents their interests at the national level. I am pleased to announce that we are having a contested election this year – the first since 2009. I wish all candidates the best of luck.

WoolPoll 2015 is currently happening where growers can determine the future of their direction their industry by choosing the amount you pay to go into research, development and marketing. More here


Mulesing Alternative - Skin Traction update

SkinTraction was developed by Cobbett Technologies and the Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) as an alternate to mulesing.

SkinTraction is a needleless applicator that deliver a measured dose of sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) intradermal one millimetre into the skin - not through the skin, or into the muscle. This is designed to cause skin contraction without an open wound. SkinTraction involves the intradermal injection of a 70gm/litre SLS solution as a sclerosing or skin-thickening agent to reduce skin wrinkle and create more bare area around a sheep’s breech, helping to protect it from strike.

After the skin is injected with SLS the damaged skin forms a hard scab after 6 days, after 14 days the sheep’s body starts to dislodge the scab and after 7 weeks the scab is fully healed.

On May 27th 2015 the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) registered SkinTraction as a one off treatment for sheep kept for fibre production that are one year old or older and with a live weight of 30Kg- plus. 

Other important regulatory info on Skin Traction here


Young Talent - Kallum Blake, Katanning WA


Kallum was born near Katanning, WA and grew up on the family farm, Ewlyamartup.

Kallum is currently the AgConnectWA President, the Grains Council Vice President and a member of the WAFarmers Board.

The Blakes run mixed cropping and livestock on their land, as well as running a Dowell Dohne stud and commercial sheep. 

The Blakes are a small producer and run just over 2,000 ewes. They have been operating the Dowell Dohne stud since 2004 but have had Dohnes in their flock since the breed was first introduced to Western Australia.

They use electronic tagging and recording for their Dohne stud


and are considering doing the same for their commercial sheep. 

Kallum has previously been involved with transporting sheep through contract carrying and is looking to continue working in the transport arm of operations in the future.

More here on Kallum


Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline  

1800 675 888


Emergency Animal Disease and Market Access


by Emma Rooke, LBN Regional Officer

An outbreak of FMD would devastate Australia’s export focussed livestock industry by shutting down our high value markets overnight.  

FMD is highly infectious and early detection and reporting of disease is essential to enable rapid response and to reduce long term impacts of FMD on the livestock industry.

But would you be able to detect FMD in your sheep?

Unlike the spectacular signs seen in cattle and pigs, FMD in sheep is often a very mild disease that may go unnoticed.  

FMD may cause blisters on the soft parts of the feet, mouth, udder and genitalia of affected animals.  These blisters then turn into painful ulcers 


Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) - Do you know what to look for


that can cause lameness, depression, reluctance to eat and reluctance to suckle young.  

Lameness is the main sign of FMD in sheep. When it occurs, lameness will develop suddenly, spread quickly, involve a large proportion of your flock, then resolve within a number of days.  

Compare this to footrot which has a slower onset, lasts longer and does not involve as many sheep as quickly.

While their feet are sore, you may just notice a tendency for your sheep to lie down more than usual or an unwillingness to move when made to stand.  On examination, blisters are almost never seen but small ulcers might be seen around the coronary band under the hair at the top of the hoof wall.

More here


Protecting Health and Productivity of your Flock at Ram Sales


At their recent ram sale, Richard Halliday of Callowie Poll Merinos highlighted the importance of two pieces of paperwork that are a vital part of the health, welfare and profitability of all breeder and commercial flocks in Australia – the Sheep Health Statement (SHS) and the National Vendor Declaration (NVD).

There are a series of simple health questions to ask the vendor on the SHS, all of them are important but at a ram sale the terrible impact of a ram having ovine brucellosis on your flock makes it a vital question to ask. Buying from an accredited breeder also helps avoid this expensive problem. 

Secondly, the Vendor Dec is an incredibly important tool for traceability.   Filling out every section correctly builds an effective trace forward, trace back system in the event of a disease outbreak.  That traceability is the best means we have to protect profitability and return to trade in that instance. 



This system only works as well as the information entered into it. 

One of the strongest arguments for mandatory RFiDs is that of traceability - WoolProducers have actively lobbied on your behalf to maintain the current system.  Poor compliance may mean a shift to RFiDs sooner, please fill them out correctly.

Photo by Ian Turner. Keith Nutt (R), Richard Halliday (L)


New Blueprint to Guide SA Sheep Industry Growth

THE South Australian sheep and wool industry is developing a blueprint designed to drive profitability, innovation and sustainability for the whole industry value chain.

The SA Sheep Industry Blueprint 2015-2020 is an initiative of Livestock SA and the SA Sheep Advisory Group.

Chair, Mr Alan Piggott says the blueprint will tackle key issues in a range of areas, such as biosecurity, access to capital, feedback to producers, welfare and environmental advocacy, succession planning and industry communication.

“Our vision is for a sheep, wool and lamb industry that is innovative and progressive and is delivering profit and sustainability to all in the value chain. So the blueprint will be big on the collaborative actions and tasks that will lead to outcomes for the next five years,” Mr Piggott said.

“Specifically, our goal is to increase productivity and value by 20 per cent by 2020 and through the scoping workshop, we’ve identified ways to make this happen." Full article here

Pictured below announcing Livestock SA, Uni of Adelaide partnership - SA Sheep Advisory Group chair Leonie Mills, Livestock SA president Geoff Power, Minister for Agriculture Leon Bignell, SA Sheep Industry Blueprint chair Allan Piggott and University JS Davies Research chair John Williams.


Ram Selection Tool Proves Popular

RamSelect.com.au is a web-based tool designed by Sheep CRC, to make it easy to harness the accuracy of Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) to achieve breeding objectives.

RamSelect does all the hard calculations for you to identify the best rams for your flock. RamSelect.com.au quickly searches all rams listed for sale and selects the best rams according to the producer’s specific breeding objectives.


RamSelect.com.au was launched by Sheep CRC on 27th of July 2015 and allows commercial sheep breeders to search for and list the most suitable rams available for their production system.

RamSelect.com.au is a web based tool, designed to take the hard work out of using Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) to identify the right genetics for your flock using data from MERINOSELECT, LAMBPLAN and DOHNE.


Since its launch, Ramselect.com.au has proven to be extremely popular with 3,100 stud rams listed by breeders on the site for scrutiny by commercial buyers.  On commercial farms rams are purchased once per year. It is easy to take a relaxed approach to this important job but the impact of genetics you buy will last for many years in your flock. The RamSelect app was designed to help producers “get it right” and to help select rams which will have the most positive impact on your flock.


Strain Specific Vaccine for Footrot in Tasmania

The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA) has welcomed the news that Treidlia Biovet Pty Ltd has produced its first batches of Specific Footrot Vaccine.

DPIPWE has announced that safety and efficacy testing has commenced on a property without footrot in Northern Tasmania.

 Footrot is present in nearly every state in Australia, but Tasmania’s climate and irrigation practises create ideal conditions for it to easily spread within and between flocks.

 “Virulent footrot is the most serious disease facing Tasmanian producers. It is more costly than OJD, lice parasites and flies,’’ TFGA President Wayne Johnston said. “Many farmers chose to sell entire flocks, rather than see the sheep suffer. They now finally have a fighting chance at eradicating this scourge from their properties,’’ Mr Johnston said. Click for more


photo by: Caitlin Flood


AWI Director Election

As per the AWI constitution at least a third of the current Board must retire their position every two years.

This year Wally Merriman, David Webster and Brian van Rooyen will retire their positions. Mr Merriman and Mr Webster have elected to re-stand, while Mr van Rooyen has not. Mr van Rooyen has served on the Board of AWI since 2002 and WoolProducers Australia would like to acknowledge and thank him for his contribution to industry.

Former NFF and NSW Farmers Association President Jock Laurie has nominated to stand for the Board.

Further information can be found in the AWI shareholder voting pack.