In late April, Eromanga’s Stuart Mackenzie was watching one of his best shearings in years, crossing his fingers that the Plevna Downs fleece wool would average $2000 a bale.
Not only did it exceed that – top lines of lambs’ wool sold for over $3000 a bale – but the overall average of just under $1950 for the clip exceeded any previous property record by $300 a bale.
To top it all off, a Plevna Downs fleece was awarded the grand champion fleece ribbon at last Saturday’s Quilpie show, weighing 6kg with a micron of 16.9 and valued at $90.66.
Another of the Mackenzie’s fleeces was judged the best strong wool fleece, and they collected the most successful exhibitor award, thanks in large part to unseasonal winter rain last year, summer follow-up and what Stu described as a stud base doing a lot of work on their genetics.
Mumblebone stud principal, Chad Taylor, was present at Quilpie on Saturday and said the fleeces on display were very much the wool they were aiming to breed.
“It’s good to see them coming through so far from home,” he said.
“Our selection is for more traits than just wool though.
“We want a good doing animal to maintain itself – it’s what sets our program apart.”
Stuart said his clip averaged around 18 microns.
The top line was wool from eight to nine month-old lambs that was 65 to 70mm long.
It’s been a wonderful year for Quilpie wool clips, with Whynot, to the west of the district, averaging $2000 a bale when it was auctioned a month after the Plevna Downs clip.
Stuart said he understood that was a district record.
“There’s quite a buzz at the moment – it’s the most positive the wool and sheep industries have been for a long, long time, probably since the pre-crash days in the 1980s.
“It’s gone to a whole new level – people are saying it’s worth being in this.”
In a recent media release, Stuart, in his capacity as Quilpie shire mayor, put the renewed air of confidence down to the positive impact of cluster fencing initiatives, which were bringing lambing rate increases and the ability to cash in on a resurgence in wool prices.
Six clusters have been constructed, while another two properties have erected their own exclusion fence.
“We were delighted to see participation by groups of landowners in the state government’s Feral Pest Initiative Program, which has provided subsidies to make the construction of wild dog fencing an affordable solution,” Stuart said.
And the shire has always been an active supporter of baiting programs.