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Cheshire sheep farmers shown wool industry from scratch
Oct '11
A group of Cheshire farmers last week got to see exactly what happens to their wool once it leaves their farms thanks to a visit to the headquarters of the British Wool Marketing Board at Bradford.

The group, all sheep farmers operating in Cheshire, were shown every aspect of the BWMB's work in grading, trading and promoting wool and also visited a scouring plant and a spinner.

And, as an aid to understanding the importance of BWMB's activities two of the farmers, Peter Brocklehurst and his father Philip, saw wool from their own flock graded at BWMB's North of England Wools' depot, Bradford, by grader Stephen Kitson.

The farmers were very impressed with the level of detail involved in grading wool and the speed BWMB graders are able to operate at, explained BWMB product development manager Tim Booth . “Seeing their own wool graded helped give them a real insight into the process and also the importance of presenting fleeces in the correct manner for grading.

The graders operate at a quite amazing speed and an incredible level of accuracy which many farmers simply don't appreciate until they see it first-hand. But, it is an essential part of BWMB's role as it means we can ensure wool is sold to the producer's best advantage.

“What was clear from the visit was that the farmers simply didn't comprehend the scale that BWMB operates at. They were also impressed by the passion that everyone in the industry has for the product they're dealing with and making the best of British wool.”

The visitors also saw a wool souring plant in action and were talked through the promotion and marketing activity of BWMB, explained Mr Booth. “With wool prices at a 25 year high some may believe that we can ease of with marketing. But this would be a false economy and with the good work being done by the Campaign for Wool there are a lot of opportunities to be had.”

And the farmers also got to see how the wool is transformed into yarn, with a visit to local spinner Laxtons, Guiseley. “This helped them get a full appreciation of the supply chain, seeing how wool is taken in by BWMB and following it from the depot to the scourers and on to the spinners,” added Mr Booth.

As ever with these visits, while the farmers undoubtedly got a lot out of it, the BWMB staff also found it a useful way of getting feedback from producers, said Mr Booth. “We welcome any opportunity to speak to wool producers as it helps them understand out work better and also gives us the opportunity to understand their issues better.”

British Wool Marketing Board

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