Head Shepherd

The future of wool harvesting with Jock Laurie of AWI

March 27, 2023 Jock Laurie Season 2023 Episode 125
Head Shepherd
The future of wool harvesting with Jock Laurie of AWI
Show Notes

Bio shearing, wool harvesting practices and Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) research is the topic of this week's podcast.

We have Jock Laurie, chair of AWI chatting with Mark today. Jock currently farms wool, lamb, beef and grain on properties in New South Wales. In 2021 Jock became chair of AWI.

Jock runs us through what AWI does, and what they're currently looking into it.

AWI, for those that don't know, is responsible for research and development for the Wool Industry in Australia. They're involved in many aspects from working on marketing the wool product and creating demand,  innovation in the shearing process, pasture varieties,  developing new uses for wool and working with wool growers to help maximise profitability and identifying areas of concern. Recently, Jock says their role has been heavily in "defending the fibre [wool] in the environmental sustainability debate."

Mark and Jock dive into the recent work AWI has been involved with.

"The first thing we have to do is get the product off the sheep's back." Jock says. There's the traditional changes we could make in the industry, and which we should be doing actively.  Changing shed design, knowing where the stressors are in shearing and changing the shed design to improve that. But AWI is also looking into something else.

"We're also looking with Adelaide University around a "bio-shearing" Jock explains

"It is essentially putting a break in the clip and then removing it." Something they have achieved already. The next step is working on a way to get the wool harvested.

"Ideally you run them through a machine that takes the wool off as you already have the break, you could use air to take the wool off." But that is all in the research stage currently.

Jock says that Covid highlighted the shearers shortage in Australia and thus the importance of finding alternative ways of harvesting wool.

"We know there are labour shortages across all industries, but industries that have physical demands that shearing does... we need to recognise that and focus on alternative ways of removing the wool. and without COVID we may not have seen that."

You can find out more here.

Mark and Jock cover a multitude of topics in this podcast, showing just how much AWI are involved with. It is a great, inspiring listen about the future of the industry. 

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