The characteristics of Dohne sheep lend well to meeting the growing demand for non-mulesed practices, presenting opportunities for Dohne woolgrowers to take advantage of accreditation schemes in order to differentiate their wool in the marketplace, according to Fox & Lillie Rural's Jenni Turner, Culcairn.
One such accreditation program is the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), which was developed in 2016 by a not-for-profit organisation called Textile Exchange and backed by some of the world's leading fashion brands such as Burberry, Patagonia, and Kathmandu.
The Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) is a global, independent and voluntary standard that addresses the welfare of sheep and the land they graze on.
Sheep wool brokers and buyers, Fox & Lillie Rural, have established the largest Australian farm group of woolgrowers accredited under the RWS and believe that the barebreached and plain-bodied Dohne, when combined with relevant management practices, is well positioned to meet the requirements of the RWS and consumers seeking out this greater level of traceability and transparency.
As Fox & Lillie's eastern Riverina branch manager, Ms Turner has seen the market for RWS wool grow as consumer demand for ethical and traceable products increases.
"The Responsible Wool Standard provides an excellent marketing option for Dohne producers who are able to meet the accreditation and wish to direct their wool into leading global brands," Ms Turner said.
One of the relationships developed from Fox & Lillie's RWS program, has been with American clothing brand Eileen Fisher, one of the first brands to introduce RWS certified wool into their supply chain.
As consumers become more ethically responsible, there is growing potential for RWS to be a key selling point within the wool industry as well as opening up marketing opportunities for woolgrowers.
The hardy Dohne sheep have characteristics such as high fertility rates and free growing wool which give the breed great prospects for producing a high-quality fibre which can be directed into RWS orders.
Being a robust sheep, even under the harshest of conditions, the Dohne sheep perform desirably for producers of non-mulesed wool, Ms Turner said.
"I encourage Dohne breeders to see the potential for their wool to be marketed to leading global brands," she said.
"The Dohne product is highly suited to meet the RWS certification to access these growing alternative markets."