THE sharp lift in wool prices should have growers re-considering the future of their Merino wethers.
In the last year or two, most producers have been quitting their Merino wether lambs and 1 1/2-year-olds at record prices into a very buoyant lamb and mutton market.
But with a 19-micron Merino wether capable of cutting a 6kg fleece worth at least $60 after last week, the odds have suddenly swung back in favour of wool.
Those with 17 and 18-micron sheep can produce fleeces worth $70-$80. That might explain why 600 June shorn two-year-old Wurrook wethers sold for $158 at the recent Western Plains circuit sale.
OLD habits die hard, according Skipton grazier Alan Pitcher, who has 1350 non-mulesed Merino ewes and wethers for sale. These sheep were catalogued for sale in the recent Western Plains sale but were thwarted by nearly 100mm of rain.
Alan is now planning to sell them on Friday, February 4. But what is annoying Alan is that most of the pre-sale inquiry is only for mulesed sheep.
"These August-shorn sheep, based on the Glendemar plain-bodied bloodline, don't need mulesing. We haven't mulesed for three years and we haven't had any breech strike," Alan said.
And for those sceptical that plain-bodied sheep can't produce enough wool, Alan said his ewes and wethers are cutting 4.4kg of 18.5 micron on an eight-month shearing interval.
THE first real signs of buyer reaction to the latest "strong northerly" prices occurred Thursday.
After the Eastern Market Indicator shot to 1252c/kg clean on the previous day, it appears that was enough and a "correction" was needed.
Elders Rex Forrest who was auctioning in the number one room, reckons it was his toughest day.
Not only did he have to get used to calling four-figure prices, but the buyers were making things hard as they opted to put the brake on by using the 10-lot rule to re-offer their purchases.
The 10-lot rule is a safety pricing mechanism for a buyer who finds he might have miscalculated the purchase of a lot.
If so, he has to notify the auctioneer within the period of the next 10 lots.
The auctioneer then re-offers the respective lot, which invariably brings a lesser price.
C&C hears the 10-lot rule was given a good working over last Thursday which saw the EMI close down 61 cents.