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Plummeting wool sales reaps bad luck for shearers
27
Jul '10
While the recent showers have been accepted by most farmers, there are still those who are trying to complete shearing of their sheep. Basically, wool has to be shorn dry or it cannot be stored properly.

Dearth of young and fit men who would like to be trained as shearers has been troubling UK farmers, whose average age is about 60. About 500 labourers, including a fair proportion of Kiwis, visit UK every summer to help shear close to 15 million sheep.

Luckily, as most farmers feared, the number of sheep shearers visiting UK from non-EU nations will not be limited, under the new migration laws, owing to aggressive lobbying by the farming unions.

Shearers expect to get paid in the right manner and hence charge around £1 per ewe. A man shearing around 250 ewes per day can possibly earn a good amount. Decreasing prices of wool in the recent years have left many sheep producers bankrupt after having paid the contract-based shearers.

Infact last season's overall returns of around 40 pence per kilogram for Blackface wool is likely to bring tears in to most sheep producers' eyes.

The recent huge fall in the numbers of sheep, globally, has witnessed diving wool production and improving prices. While this year's UK shear might be close to 26 million kilograms, it is far less than the highest shear recorded in early 1990s at 49 million kilograms.

Dearth of wool at home and international, resulted in hopes that producers might procure huge balance payments next summer, after this year's shear had been sold. But, the wool market is extremely volatile and the ongoing international economic downfall and the tentative demand from China have seen prices starting to ease again.

After the sale of last season's wool on June 16, at a time when the prices were just slightly down, the first sale of this season's wool, as made on July 7, was welcomed with selective and ambiguous demand.

Approximately 58 percent of a small, 1 million kilogram remained unsold. This probably would have set the alarm bells on for auctioneers, who are likely to reduce the reserve prices in a bid to remove wool from the depots, as farmers commence delivering the bulk of this season's shear.

While nobody is anticipating the market to fall, industry experts aver that only a brave man can invest on this season's shear and earn a little more than just covering the cost of shearing.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk - India

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Courtesy: UN Department of Public Information

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