Business Rural Spring 2021

18 | Armidale wool sought Hugh de Lacy MEAT & WOOL » Armidale Stud T he consistency as much as the quality of Ar- midale Merino Stud’s wool, and that of its 12 other South Island suppliers, was the reason Norwegian-based global woollen clothing company Devold dumped its 28 Australian wool producers in favour of New Zealanders. That happened five years ago when 168-year-old Devold decided the Australian climate had become too unstable to consistently produce the quality and length of fine wool needed for the circular knit- ting processes at its Langevag factory in western Norway. “Devold approached us and offered us a contract to supply our Merino wool to them,” Armidale Stud owner Simon Paterson says. “They process and manufacture garments all the way through to retail, and we’re in the third year of our contract with them.” Armidale runs a big stud flock of 1200 ewes, plus 2200 commercial ewes and a Halfbred flock of 1200 on 2054ha near Gimmerburn on the high, cold Maniototo Plain in Central Otago. The wool it produces is in the 18.5 to 19 micron range, 100mm long, and the ewes cut around 6.5kg each. The farm has been in the Paterson family since the early 1880s when just 40ha was carved off the old Puketoi Station by Anthony Paterson, and since then five generations of the family have steadily built the farm up to its present size. The Armidale Merino stud was first registered by George Paterson in 1940, only to see its registration lapse during World War Two, but revived in 1956 by Bruce Paterson. Today it’s farmed by Simon and his wife Sarah, and their two sons, Hugo and Bede. Under Bruce’s management the focus was on producing a Merino with a large frame and superior wool weights, and to those traits the family is currently working on increasing worm resistance, maternal traits and reducing input costs. Wool weight still dominates the Armidale selec- tion process, but today the stud is moving away from the moderate frame it once featured. “We’re definitely chasing greater carcass weight and other carcass attributes, and to that end have been scanning eye-muscle since 2004 but, along with do-ability and structure, we’re still focussed on wool,” Simon Paterson says. Armidale progeny is keenly sought after, and in early January its annual stud sale will offer 30 Merino, 50 halfbred and 30 quarter-bred rams, the latter being Merinos crossed back over Halfbred ewes. Armidale was one of the first Merino producers approached by Devold, which was offering not just an exclusive three-year rolling wool contract at a rate calculated annually at several dollars above the auction price, but a vertically integrated marketing programme that identifies the farm every Devold product comes from. In Armidale’s case, that’s 30,000 garments a year from around 10 tonnes of wool. “Having our own processing plants means we know exactly what wool type we need to get the best performance out of our garments,” Devold’s Australasian manager, Wanaka-based Kiwi Craig Smith, says. And in a first for Australasia, Devold opened its first retail shop in Wanaka in early July this year. Photos: Top shepherds Ben Harmer and Kate Campbell. Maniototo winter: Armidale progeny is keenly sought after, and in early January its annual stud sale will offer 30 Merino, 50 halfbred and 30 quarter-bred rams. Ranfurly Transport Ltd Livestock Cartage Computerised Lime, Super and Seed Sowing Ready Mix Concrete • Gravel, Sand and Cement Supplies • General Cartage Phone: Richard 021 542 714 | Todd 027 449 2450 Peter 027 433 3522 | (03) 448 6378 | Servicing wool growing clients in Southland, Otago & South Canterbury P ETER L YON S HEARING