Chang­ing the way we shear

The Western Star - - RURAL WEEKLY -

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.

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