The Merino Wool Farm
Omeo, Australia EST. 1900
Employees 2 people
Average salary: Income returned to the farm, owners draw a living allowance
Work hours: 70 hours per week
Products: All ASKET 100% merino garments
Mulesing Free: No
Last visit: April 2019
The Smith Family, headed by Alan and his daughter Belinda, keep 5000 Pendarra and Bindawarra merinos on 4000 acres of rolling hills and river beds. Working in the same place for over 100 years, they have perfected their craft through meticulous breeding and care for their flock. The outcome is a merino wool fiber of superior quality, farmed in harmony with land and animals.
The year’s shearing takes place in late September. The process starts with the farm owner Alan, herding the Merinos to a space outside the shearing shed, where the sheep are washed and undergo health checks. Then, a highly trained shearing team bring them inside to manually trim the fleece of each, one by one, using electric trimmers. After the trimming, the fleece is visually and tactilely inspected by Belinda, Alan’s daughter who also works on the family farm, and rates every section of fleece.
Herding at the Smith Farm is done by alpacas. Alpacas are extremely protective animals and won’t let predators near the flock they will patrol the boundary fences. If they sense trouble they will round all the sheep up and take them to the highest point in the paddock where they can be on the lookout for potential attackers. One of the farmers shared the following story: "One day we were checking ewes and lambs and found a lamb in the dam, Kelvin got the lamb out, we had no idea which ewe it belonged to but the alpaca did and got behind the lamb and nudged it all the way back to its mother. "
The Smith Farm owns and cares for Pendarra and Bindawarra Merino sheep. These breeds have thick, wrinkly skin that is prone to flystrike - the attraction of flies, which hatch and cause infections around the buttock area, causing pain and stress to the sheep. To drastically reduce the risk of flystrike, The Smith farm muleses its sheep when they are lambs. Mulesing is the removal of parts of skin around the buttocks of the lamb, which prevents flystrike throughout the sheeps’ lifetime. Mulesing is carried out by certified operators and always with anesthesia during and after the process.
The Smith Farm has lived in harmony with their land and sheep for 100 years and are certified by the Australian Sheep agency, New England Wool. The farm has received certificate of accreditation to the Sustaina Wool Scheme. Their flock of sheep is their most precious asset, as such the wellbeing of their sheep is of greatest importance.
As many Australian farms, the Smiths are gradually shifting towards mulesing free farming. We are monitoring the transition and investigating alternatives.