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					PowerPoint file CSA1 – 1 “The Development of Cleanskin Sheep in Australia” Denis Russell
2. To open lets briefly visit where most of us have come from. The majority of cleanskin breeders have at
some time been wool growers and have moved away from fibre production simply as a method of
maintaining survival where the environment has not been ideal for gaining profit from the merino. Most of
us have family, close friends, neighbours and long term associations with wool industry participants to
this day, and respect their continued choice to maintain a business based on the Merino – We continue
to respect the place the Merino sheep has had in development of the Australian rural scene and export
earnings and continues to have currently. We do not seek to endanger that Industry by our choice of
livestock business.
3. The “Elephant in the room” is always the issue of contamination of the national wool clip by shedding
breeds. We have deliberately not included a section on this issue that has often been treated with
hostility, fear - mongering, dis-information and plain ignorance.
During the last 12 years most of our fellow breeders have had to run Merinos in the breed change over
period and address the contamination risk by applying the AWEX code of practice. The code is neither
onerous nor proven to be costly and allows the processing industry to assess risk. We continue to
recommend this avenue of risk management to maintain the integrity of the Australian wool clip.


The video clip has a few messages – first notice that the operation is relaxed and easy – no big team of
yapping dogs or yelling blokes, the sheep are flowing easily and the owner is quietly making money
drafting off the wethers for sale. The open draft that has eased yard work considerably was passed on
from a goat breeder – a result of networking.
The final message is that if you start to get it right you can make some lifestyle changes and take time
for some of the recreational aspects of rural life.

PowerPoint file CSA2-1. Cleanskin Sheep Australia Inc was established in 2009 to focus on the
development of all the breeds and act as a delivery point for information, a catalyst for education and a
stimulus for developing a support network for interaction of breeders with common goals with emphasis
on commercial lamb meat production.

Cleanskin Sheep Australia has a vision that the cleanskin sheep breeds will develop as the cattle
industry has - where the only consideration is meat production.

  Prior to the South African importations of sheep breeds released in 1996 the only complete wool
shedding breed in Australia was the 2. Wiltshire Horn of British origin originally imported to Australia in
1951. This breed still had some incomplete shedding on occasion with retention of back wool but most
breeders had selected away from it and had a consistent clean shedding sheep. 3. The Wiltipoll was
being developed around this time and while wool retention was at times an issue due to crossbreeding to
remove horn, the breeders have good shedding sheep in 2010.

4. The release of the Dorper and 5. Damara from South Africa in 1996 and the White Dorper in 1997,
and Van Rooy 6. in 1998 saw the first opportunity to gain some diversity in shedding sheep for
dedicated meat production. Each of these South African breeds while being promoted as “no shearing”
had a high percentage of sheep that needed some management of residual wool. In the extreme cases
the wool growth was excessive for a sheep promoted as “easy care – non shearing”. To this day some
of the breed representatives are in denial about the wool maintenance issues still apparent within their

7. The Persian sheep was introduced in 1999 and again in 2005 and this breed has had no need of
selection for removal of wool residue as it was a pure hair sheep with a minimal amount of winter down
undercoat. While it has a place in the tool box of genetics particularly for the extreme arid regions this
type of sheep must be used with caution because of meat to fat ratios in commercial production.

Some breeders focusing on the best of the shedding types soon noticed in each breed a percentage of
sheep that shed off early in the season leaving a short often shiny coat of short hair. The best of these
animals were propagated by embryo transfer and were described by some breeders as “cleanskins”

The terminology was used in educational material and sale promotions and has become a description
now often used in the commercial sector to describe sheep that need no attention to wool management
due to complete shedding each Spring/Summer.

8. In recent years it is common to get a call from a commercial producer seeking 8 decks of cleanskin
ewes (800 ewes) where breed content is preferred to be prime lamb compatible but essentially any
complete shedding breed suited to breeding a prime lamb. Many properties that have no facilities for
shearing now seek total easy care sheep to run in the same way as cattle.

9. Many „NEW” breeds have sprung up from the blending of shedding sheep breeds and with the pure
types as terminal sires, offer a more economical and efficient method of prime lamb production in

10. Developed breeds such as the Damper, Meatmaster, Red Meatmaster combine the best
characteristics of the Fat tail sheep with the meat and muscle of the Dorper or White Dorper to better suit
arid lands, high temperature zones and specific live export markets.

11. Other breeds have blended the White Dorper with English breeds for high performance hybrid prime
lamb production in the higher rainfall – Nudies, Kojak, Wilper, and others.

12. Mini Meat sheep are in development to service the expanding small farm market that can get some
per hectare meat production and visual and personal gratification.


14. While we are developing the Cleanskin concept in Australia the international scene is playing out the
same struggle with rising costs and labour availability. 15. Germany are developing the Nolana sheep –
a combination of traditional breeds and preserved old native hair breeds with two styles – one for the flat
country and a more rugged type for the hill country.16. Holland are developing the "Ruischaap" as their
easy care version and Britain have called theirs “Easy care” 17. The Wiltshire Horn breed is influencing
these gene pools as well and Europe have their eye on Australia for genetic material..

18. Major commercial cleanskin breed influences in Australia.

Wiltshire Horn, Wiltipoll, Damara, Dorper, White Dorper – Meatmaster through the influence of Damara x
female lines mated to upgrade to Dorper/ White Dorper.

 Many of these hybrid blend variants will probably stablise at a productive level rather than theoretical
percentages depending on the management environment.

Where are the opportunities and growth?

It would be fair to say that there are already millions of sheep on the cleanskin pathways in the semi arid
regions of the country, Pastoral Western Australia, Western NSW, Northern South Australia and South
Western Queensland. Mostly Damara cross or Merino base ewes upgraded with predominantly
Dorper/White Dorper with some operations Wiltshire based. There has been a major trend for the more
traditional prime lamb production areas to change over in the last two years and rather than seeing
sheep go from South Australia as far away as Bourke or South Western Queensland most are now
under stiff competition to closer areas like Kangaroo Island the higher rainfall South East of SA and
Western Victoria. We would now be fielding up to three or four inquiries a week for any form of cleanskin
breeding ewe.

The small farmer come hobby farmer. Often treated with indifference by mainstream livestock
businesses. This is a big growth area in rural Australia and the small farm breeders put a lot of effort
and income into all livestock businesses. I have seen several small farmers grow into commercial
concerns – so don‟t overlook this area.

Still some room for development in the skin market subject to world market issues. The value in
sheepskins has always been in the wool cover – lambskins are a premium because of their multiple use
in furnishing, floor mats, medical beds, car seat covers etc. Other wool skins are valued on wool
recovery from fell mongering with the by product leather. Bare shorn skins have always been of little
value and the cleanskin or shedding skin is in this category. There is no question that the leather from
all the cleanskin breeds produces a superior leather product but it is then in competiton with all the other
leathers produced in the world including goat, pig, and split cow leathers. The only way of increasing
return would be to get segregation of the best types and separate marketing. I suspect the costs of this
operation would consume the return to the producer for the raw product.

There are niche market opportunities for some private operations but again this consumes a lot of time
and financial investment and is distraction from the main game of meat production. I question whether it
leads to real profit or is just a level of satisfaction involved in trying to value add a good product.

Each of our grower speakers has 10 or more years or more of hands on experience with the various
breeds and today will share their knowledge with you on the basis of “this is what we have done” and
“this is the result for us” The common themes are, utilization of resources, economy of labour, reduction
of production cost and profitability. You will probably be able to read into the information that there is also
a business lifestyle change that creeps in with the cleanskin sheep business as well.

Cattle country in Queensland is diversifying into cleanskin sheep and we will see some relevant figures
to show us that area of potential. Many operations are now moving from cropping /wool to cropping
/lamb and in marginal areas are dropping some of the cropping operation for the greater security of
cleanskin lamb production with deliberately sown cereal grazing crops.

It is a full program and we are going to push through to give as much information as possible in the time
provided – all of the speakers will be available after the seminar and at the barbecue tonight and most
will be here tomorrow for your questions – contact details are as near as the website if you want to
communicate later.

19. Key messages to focus on for the program

20. There is a great range of Cleanskin breeds and lines within breeds that ensure genetic diversity

21. Use the information provided by the speakers to quantify the benefits Cleanskin sheep can offer your

22. Identify your target market and establish the relationships that will develop that market.

23. Use information gathered from the speakers today to design an efficient Cleanskin sheep production