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25 September 2008

Seasonal conditions hold back Australian wool production

A patchy and dry winter and a dry start to spring in many parts of Australia is expected to
pull Australian wool production back in 2008/09, according to the latest forecasts from the
Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee.

Australian shorn wool production is forecast to decline to 375 mkg greasy in the 2008/09
season, a 6% decrease from the 2007/08 level. This a modest change from the previous
Committee forecast made in July. The Committee expects production to fall in all states except for Queensland.
The main cause of the lower production is reducing sheep numbers from a continuing sell-off of sheep,
encouraged by high prices for both lambs and sheep for slaughter and the live sheep trade.

Committee Chairman Russell Pattinson said, “The season has been patchy but, in many areas, conditions have
been dry throughout winter and into the start of spring. However, the Committee acknowledged that the season
is in balance. Growers are reported to be considering a further sell off of both lambs and adult sheep as they are
becoming concerned about the availability of feed if seasonal conditions remain dry.”

“While production in 2008/09 is forecast to be lower than previously expected in most states, the most significant
change is in NSW. Production in the largest wool producing state was expected to be up slightly in 2008/09, but
the dry conditions, particularly in the south of the state, has resulted in a significant sell-off of sheep in recent
months and expected lower fleece weights. This is now forecast to bring a 5% fall in wool production in that

The Committee was aided in its forecast by a survey of over 1,000 woolgrowers taken across Australia in July
and early August, supervised by the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA) and
funded by Australian Wool Innovation. The survey reported that over half the growers surveyed said that they
were experiencing below average or drought conditions.

Seasonal conditions are worst in Tasmania, with three-quarters of those surveyed saying they were in drought.
Wool production in Tasmania is expected to fall by 21%. In contrast, conditions were the best in Queensland,
with over 60% reporting average or above average seasonal conditions. The Committee predicts that wool
production in that state will lift by 6%.

Committee Chairman Russell Pattinson said “There are reports that some growers are interested in rebuilding
their flocks, but this is unlikely to occur until we see a sustained improvement in seasonal conditions.”

The DAFWA Survey also included questions on the proportion of non-mulesed wool produced and lambs that
would not be mulesed. Based on the Survey results it is expected that around 14.5% of Australian wool
production in 2008/09 would be from non-mulesed sheep, an increase from the 11.5% reported in the February
2008 survey. The Survey also indicated that almost half of all lambs (46%) born in 2008 would not be mulesed.
This compares with 32% reported in the February 2008 survey. In addition to these results, 21% of producers
have a breeding strategy which involves sourcing bare-breeched rams, up from 14.8% recorded in February.
A full report of the latest forecasts will be available after 2.00pm Wednesday, 1st October on the AWI website at

Media contact: Russell Pattinson – (03) 5429 1868 or 0419 872 684



Total Australian shorn wool production for 2008/09 is forecast at 375 mkg greasy, compared with the
Committee’s June forecast of 385 mkg greasy. State by state, production forecasts are:
• NSW – 132 mkg (down compared with 2007/08 by 5%)
• Western Australia – 84 mkg (down by 8%)
• Victoria – 75 mkg (lower by 8%)
• South Australia – 55 mkg (lower by 5%)
• Queensland – 20 mkg (higher by 6%)
• Tasmania – 8 mkg (down by 20%)

The latest estimate for Australian shorn wool production in 2007/08 is 400 mkg greasy, the same as the June

In developing the forecasts the Committee drew on a Survey of 1111 woolgrowers across Australia, conducted in
July and early August. The Survey was supervised by the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) and
funded by Australian Wool Innovation (AWI). The Survey included questions on prevailing seasonal conditions,
expected wool production and sheep numbers. The Committee also reviewed the latest available statistics from
the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), ABARE, the Australian Wool
Exchange (AWEX) and the Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA). In addition, the Committee drew on
information from the state sub-committees about conditions and trends in the various regions of each state.

State and National Shorn Wool Production

                   Meeting        QLD       NSW        Vic.      Tas.        SA          WA       National
  2007/08         Sep 08 (e)        19       138        82         10         59         92          400
  2008/09         Jun 08 (f)        21       139        78         8          56         83          385
  2008/09         Sep 08 (f)        20       132        75         8          55         84          375

Note: Totals may not add due to rounding.    Figures: mkg greasy        (e) = estimate        (f) = forecast

The Survey also included questions on the proportion of lambs in 2008 that would not be mulesed, the proportion
of the clip that would be from non-mulesed sheep and whether growers had a ram breeding strategy that
involved sourcing bare-breeched rams. The results from these questions were:

• 14.5% of Australian wool production in 2008/09 will be from non-mulesed sheep
• 46% of lambs born in 2008 will be non-mulesed
• 21% of producers have a breeding strategy which involves sourcing bare-breeched rams.

The AWI Production Forecasting Committee comprises woolgrowers, wool brokers, exporters, processors,
private treaty merchants and representatives from AWEX, AWTA, ABARE, ABS, MLA, DAFWA and AWI.
  For images and information please contact:

  Stephen Feighan
  AWI Corporate Affairs
  Telephone: +61 2 8295 3107
  Mobile: +61 418 218 913

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