Changing the way we shear
HOW to attract shearers to the industry, while simultaneously funding projects for robotic shearing – which essentially do shearers out of a job – was an issue raised at the Australian Wool Innovation annual general meeting.
At the meeting, wool grower Bill Griffiths said “we are still shearing sheep the way we did 100 years ago”.
Mr Griffiths said he didn’t think they would be “getting too many shearers and wool handlers in to the industry” if robotics was being encouraged.
Attracting shearers to the industry was an ongoing issue, with Australian Wool Innovation spending $12 million in the past five years on shearer and wool handler training.
AWI chair Colette Garnsey said it was currently undertaking two projects on robotic shearing.
“They are big projects and they are expensive projects, and in some part there is an element of blue sky, which is good to see,” she said.
But Ms Garnsey said they “do not see any opportunity to reduce” spending on shearer and wool handler training at this stage.
“This level of spend we see as an ongoing matter for AWI, until we can come up with some outcomes that ease this pressure point in the production of wool,” she said.