Burdens ride wool’s roller coaster

Record wool prices typify peaks and troughs of growing wool in western Queensland


Vicki and Dominic Burden hosted Senator Barry O'Sullivan at Macsland in 2015, before they were forced to destock the property.

Vicki and Dominic Burden hosted Senator Barry O'Sullivan at Macsland in 2015, before they were forced to destock the property.

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Growing wool in western Queensland has been like riding a roller coaster in the last few years, but Longreach couple Dominic and Vicki Burden are doing their best to hang on.

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Being in the wool industry in western Queensland in the last few years has been an epic roller coaster ride, but Longreach couple Dominic and Vicki Burden are doing their best to negotiate the bends, peaks and troughs.

The story of their ride over the last 12 months typifies the uncertain journey they and many other wool producers have been on.

After being completely destocked at Macsland, just north of Longreach, for 18 months, unexpected rain last winter meant they were able to contemplate bringing sheep back to the property.

As luck would have it for them, a mob of 2500 six-year-old ewes, originally from Walcha on the NSW Northern Tablelands, but sold to a property at Jundah, was on the market.

“It was an opportunistic purchase,” Dominic said, “It was a nice line of ewes that was supposed to set us on the road to restocking.”

Twelve months later, the sheepyards at Macsland are full as the same mob begins to fill waiting road train decks, after only two or three inches of rain since September 2016.

In the meantime, they leave behind a $1770 bale average for the Burdens, and a top price of $2170 for a select number of lines, based on Yalgoo bloodlines.

Dominic said they had done an exceptional job, cutting up to 5.4 kg and averaging 70 per cent of lambs.

Bright and white: A sample of the 17 micron fleece line sold under the Macsland wool stencil in Sydney recently. Photo contributed.

Bright and white: A sample of the 17 micron fleece line sold under the Macsland wool stencil in Sydney recently. Photo contributed.

“That’s pretty good for an older ewe bringing a lamb in. They did well in our country for their age,” he said.

“It turned into a reasonable trade for us, thanks to wool and sheep markets.

“They were always going to go, but we would have normally kept them a few more months and gotten condition on them.”

The Burdens are among the many people in the central west fencing their country against wild dog predation, to manage whole grazing pressure.

Doing it in three stages, they still have some paddocks that are unfenced and vulnerable to wild dog attacks.

According to Dominic, there was a survival rate of 30 per cent more lambs for those behind the security of the fence.

Elders handled the sale for the Burdens and newly appointed western Queensland wool manager, John Landers, based in Longreach, said every lot had been sold above the appraisal.

“The market was back a little bit but lower microns weren’t back as much,” he said.

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