Friday, December 8, 2023

Ida Valley wool makes good show

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Fine wool prices might be below last year’s levels but they still made the sale screen at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch good viewing for Central Otago farmer Jock McNally.
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He watched as his 15 to 17 microns Merino wool sold for up to $17.50/kg greasy at the annual live auction on Thursday.

“The prices are still reasonable, still above the averages of the last few years and I’m happy with the sale,” he said.

McNally also sells 36 micron coarse wool in the show auction, subject to continuing low prices well offset by the elevated meat prices farmers are getting from their sheep and cattle.

All up he had 55 bales to sell and nearly all of it sold under the hammer.

The returns from Merino hogget wool are a double collect … by the time the wethers are sold for processing by the end of this month the return is about $200 a head.

“The lamb meat prices we’re getting now are unseen in my lifetime.”

From now to early next year is a good time for cashflow with the wool income, payment for the wethers then ending the year finishing the Romney fat lambs for processing.

Though all are heavily dependent on the Chinese he thinks the outlook is positive at least for the next few years.

“There’s good and bad in the reliance on one market but with record prices you can’t complain. Further down the track it could be an issue.”

For the moment the Chinese demand for lamb and beef means other countries have to pay up as well for supply. 

McNally farms 2800ha in the Ida Valley ranging from lowland flats up to his house at 450 metres and the higher hills the Merino sheep love, up at 600m. The combination provides a good farming balance.

He farms 6000 Merino ewes, 2000 Romney ewes and 400 cattle.

The economic good times are rounded out by the Ida Valley countryside looking like Southland, full of green pasture.

The favourable growthy and the dry years seem to run in cycles of up to 10 years each but he always farms for a dry year next year, he says.

He’s become a regular seller at the show because it suits his farming timetable with the hoggets shorn just three weeks earlier. He will be back next year.

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