WHEN it comes to the increasing consumer demand for sustainable wool production one of Australia’s leading wool-marketing organisations, Jemalong Wool, adheres to market signals.
Consumers are demanding transparency — regardless of the commodity, according to Jemalong Wool managing director Rowan Woods, who said traceability and sustainability was becoming increasingly important for wool markets in Western Europe and North America.
“They want assurances around sustainability and traceability, and to know materials are sourced ethically,” Mr Woods said.
“For wool that means coming from a place where the welfare of lambs is paramount and that’s where pain relief comes in.”
This is why the company, which has branches in Forbes, Cooma and Tamworth, NSW, supports growers who use Tri-Solfen pain relief on mulesed Merino lambs – for the business efficiencies and animal welfare benefits.
“A properly completed NWD is a powerful and necessary tool for the wool exporter in marketing growers‘ wool to downstream clients, and further displays an attitude of transparency and traceability,” Mr Woods said.
„Today's technology allows shoppers to use their smartphone to scan a tag and find out nearly everything about that item, including how it was made and where the wool was grown, so it’s critical that growers are open with their practices - and the the National Wool Declaration (NWD) facilitates this.“
The good news for growers is that using pain relief is paying off, Mr Woods said, with the emergence of premiums for wool from Merino sheep treated with pain relief.
“Wool producers are primarily concerned with the welfare of their livestock, and are now increasingly willing to adopt Tri-Solfen pain relief, knowing that not only is the cost covered, but premiums exist for Pain Relief (PR) status wool in the Jemalong Wool sale catalogue,” he said.
“All the while, wool producers know they are performing industry best practice, and supporting the ethical treatment of the animal.”
Jemalong Wool’s Technical Services Manager, David Quirk, points to New England Wool as one example.
“As one of the leading exporters of Australian wool, it uses the SustainaWOOL integrity scheme that hinges on full traceability,” Mr Quirk said.
“On the lots that suit – those that have used pain relief and where the grower is SustainaWOOL accredited - there can be up to a three percent premium in the marketplace.
“Grower reports (also) show Tri-Solfen has very tangible benefits for livestock, including increased survival rates in lambs, better mothering up, as well as reduced visible stress to the lamb.”
Mr Qurik urged every mulesing Merino producer to use pain relief in an effort to increase volume and demonstrate to those not using pain relief why they should.
“This would help buyers and producers with volumetric efficiencies, in giving consumers what they’re demanding,” he said.
“Shorter lambs’ wool, 40-50 millimetres, is very much front and centre of the market at the moment.
“It’s not just that first year or a one-off premium; that PR symbol stays with that animal for life — and so does the premium it attracts.“