Esperance students learn the price of wool

Esperance students at WA College of Agriculture Cunderdin, Phillip McDonald and Jack Oorschot, both 17, on a visit to the Westcoast Wools Pty Ltd wool stores in Perth.
Esperance students at WA College of Agriculture Cunderdin, Phillip McDonald and Jack Oorschot, both 17, on a visit to the Westcoast Wools Pty Ltd wool stores in Perth.

LOCAL lads Phillip McDonald and Jack Oorschot, both 17, got an insight last week into what happens to their college’s wool clips after it goes out the gate.

Year 12 students at WA College of Agriculture Cunderdin, they were part of a student group which on Wednesday (May 10) toured the Westcoast Wools Pty Ltd wool stores, the Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA) and the Western Wool Centre (WWC), all in Bibra Lake, Perth.

Phillip and Jack are both off properties that run sheep near Esperance.

Phillip’s parents Neville and Sue run a sheep feedlot at Beaumont and are Westcoast Wools clients while Jack’s parents Theo and Sheila run a sheep and cattle property at Merivale.

The Cunderdin college runs a commercial flock of 2500 Merino ewes as a part of its 2524 hectare farm enterprise, as well as a small stud flock of Poll Dorset sheep.

Phillip, Jack and the other students on the tour have all studied for Certificate III in Wool Clip Preparation and Novice Shearing.

As part of their course they help select the breeding stock, help with lamb marking and in autumn they help muster the flock for shearing.

During the main shearing, which took place over a number of weeks in March with 1700 head going through the shed, the year 12 students do all the shed work, including the shearing.

At AWTA they learned how wool was tested to determine precise specification and therefore suitability for particular manufacturing processes and at Westcoast Wools auctioneer Danny Ryan explained how wool is lotted and prepared for sale and samples are displayed for wool buyers to examine.

At the WWC they watched as another Westcoast Wools auctioneer Brad Faithfull sold the college clip of 51 bales.

Four of the six lines sold for good prices with some strong competition from bidders, while two lines totalling 10 bales were passed in after bidding failed to reach the reserve price.

“I never realised there was as much testing of the wool as there is,” Phillip said after the tours.

Jack showed his pragmatic nature.

“I think we (college) got pretty good prices (for our wool),” he said.