Show Notes

This week on the podcast, Darren Spencer, President of the Western Australian Shearing Industry Association (WASIA), discusses some of the key issues faced by the wool industry, as well as how wool producers and the shearing industry can work together more effectively in the future.

First up, Darren runs us through what WASIA has done to address the much talked about “shearers’ shortage”. 

In the wake of COVID, it was obvious to WASIA that there were not enough new entrants coming into the Australian shearing industry, “So, that meant we had to actually do some training,” he explains. “Through AWI, there was a lot more emphasis put on training new entrants and novices. For the first time ever, you could see guys go to a shearing school, learn how to shear, shearing 50 or 60 a day and they could jump on a stand because the stands were empty.” 

Darren says they now have enough shearers in WA and the emphasis has shifted to upskilling them. WASIA have noticed a shortage in shed staff, so that is their new focus.

The next question, if we have enough shearers, is how do we retain them in the industry?

WASIA and AWI have developed the “Safe Sheds - The Shearing Shed Safety Program”. The aim is to help improve safety and efficiency in the shearing shed. The program assists woolgrowers to identify what needs to be fixed and provides a process to follow. “We developed the program and also developed an app with it. The program is set up with four parts. You have an induction, a pre-shearing, a post-shearing and a main full inspection program,” explains Darren.

“That was set up so that we could go to a shed, preferably well before shearing, and run through the program with the farmer and leave him with a list or whatever that needed to be fixed and we could discuss with him the priorities about what needed to happen first,” says Darren. 

Follow the link below to find this great resource:

Shearing is an incredibly demanding task and Darren emphasises how important it is for farmers to keep thinking about how they can make the job easier for shearers. There are recent innovations in shearing shed design, such as race delivery systems, that can improve productivity, as well as reduce physical strain on shearers.

Thanks to our sponsors, Heiniger, for setting up this interview. Darren has great insight into the core issues within the shearing industry and we think this episode is a must-listen for all woolgrowers! 

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