Click go the shears as interstate shearers fill huge void

Why wouldn't you be a shearer or a shed hand ? Look what you get just for afternoon tea at Bangate Station woolshed near Goodooga.
Why wouldn't you be a shearer or a shed hand ? Look what you get just for afternoon tea at Bangate Station woolshed near Goodooga.

An influx of interstate shearers for late autumn and winter has helped fill a shearer shortage in NSW - but the end of the year will be problematic for contract staff.

That's the opinion of leading central-west shearing contractor and world champion shearer Steven "Muddy" Mudford, who is busy playing catch-up after the shearing season was bogged down by continuous wet weather.

One of the contracts for Muddy's Quality Shearing is a 12-stand shed at the famous Bangate Station near Goodooga where shearing is going well.

A 12-stand shed at Bangate Station with Muddy's Quality Shearing completing the wool season for Bangate's owners.

A 12-stand shed at Bangate Station with Muddy's Quality Shearing completing the wool season for Bangate's owners.

The game of catch-up that has made it hard to get many western sheep into yards because of wet paddocks, but that will finally be overcome by late June, says Mr Mudford. Some graziers have had to delay shearing by a couple of months due to the wet and pressure on contractors.

He has 30 shearers going at the moment including at Bangate Station, inbetween Lightning Ridge and Goodooga.

Bangate Station comprises about 27,000 hectares fronting the Narran River and has a long history going back to the late 1800s.

"We're getting more shearers around us," Muddy said. "We'll be catching up with all the shearing in another three weeks. There's been so much rain and it's just been too hard to get sheep into sheds. It's dried up a bit now and we hope to catch up wth everything by the end of June."

Shearers were only turning up now in greater numbers from the other states.

"They're just coming in now from WA, South Australia and Victoria," Mr Mudford said.

"Everyone is so happy now we will be able to catch up properly. It will fill in the gap between now and August but then they will filter home and we'll struggle again going into spring. Theyll go south the shear lambs."

Mr Mudford said though there was still an existing shortage of shed hands everywhere. He called on the AWI to do more to get in more shed hands. Shearing piece rates were still about $4.20 a sheep, although the cost of living was rising.

Noogoora burr had been a problem in some northern flocks. The burr was hard to get rid of in wool processing. Noogoora infested wool could reduce wool cheques by 40 per cent.

He said the only thing graziers could do was to try and keep their sheep out of infected paddocks and keep on top of their weed problems. The burr had been particularly bad around Coonamble.

One western station holder at White Cliffs said he was dismayed his sheep had come in for shearing looking almost black covered in Noogoora burr. Wet weather had pushed shearing back by several weeks and during this time the sheep had collected the burr in their fleeces.

This story At last a (little) break in the weather and shearer numbers first appeared on Daily Liberal.