BOOSTING fleece weight is the next focus for Walcha woolgrowers Stephen Hoy and Barry and Jenny Hoy.
The brothers, who work alongside their mother Phyllis, run 1700 Merinos and 1200 crossbreds over 1240 hectares at "Miltiades".
The flock includes Karori rams and Glenburnie blood and the Hoys have purchased Kurrajong Park rams for the past few years.
“We were looking for a bit more size and frame and hoping to increase fleece weight and we saw a Kurrajong Park ram at the Armidale housed ram sale,” Stephen Hoy said.
“Having a bigger frame can help us increase wool cut and sheep size as well for the end product when we sell to the meat market.
“We wanted to keep our crimp and style – we’re just under 17-micron – but have that extra weight.”
The decision to purchase Kurrajong Park rams has paid off with a finer micron, so the next step is improving fleece weight.
“In the past two or three years we’ve kept the Kurrajong Park progeny separate, and the hoggets came back 0.7-micron finer, and this year we’ll compare the fleece weight as well,” Mr Hoy said.
The improvements have been pleasing considering the family has only been growing wool since 2000.
“We went from crossbred breeders to fine wool growers so we were on a very steep learning curve.”
About 300 ewe lambs are retained each year, and all wether lambs sold as hoggets.
There's been good demand from restockers for the classed out sheep.
”Our agent John Croake (from Australian Wool Network) has clients, New England woolgrowers, who buy them each year,” Mr Hoy said.
The property has a good mix of native and improved pastures, with fescues, clovers, and ryegrasses, but sheep are supplementary fed corn over winter in the dry years.
The older ewes are joined to Border Leicester rams for their last few lambs, with the lambs finished on crop and supplementary fed before being sold direct to Eversons near Kempsey.
Prices for both wool and meat have been rewarding in recent years, and the Hoys are hoping the current markets can stablise at strong levels.
“Fifteen years ago we probably got our best money for 14.8-micron, and that was over 3200 cents a kilogram,” Mr Hoy said.
“Last year’s 14.3-micron wool made 2199c/kg.
“I hope the market doesn't go any higher because it’ll put pressure on buyers and see a few of them get pushed out of the market.
“At the moment it's win-win – both parties are able to make money.
“Not long ago we were getting 1000c/kg or 1100c/kg for some of our best lines which made wool growing very tough.”