Chinese demand boosts wool prices
Prices for wool are "stronger" this year, with quotes reaching around €1.45 a kilo on the back of demand from China, according to one merchant.
Seamus Dooley, from Dooley Wool in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, said prices were higher for fine wool than this time last year with demand from Asia "propping" up the market.
"We've four containers gone to China last week, another next week and then we haven't anything going for a while. However, we have some forward sold to them," he said, with figures showing prices around 15c/kilo higher this year.
Mr Dooley, who is 50 years in the trade, said the mix of fine and then wet weather in May meant the yield was better as the level of grease wasn't high in the wool. "All the wool is cleared out in England and Ireland so there is no backlog," he said. From August onwards, Mr Dooley said they would get a volume of carpet wool from Achill Island and other areas which would be brought to Bradford later in the year.
Shearer George Graham (pictured), from Gorey, Co Wexford, who drew strong crowds to his demonstrations, said less grease in the coat meant sheep were harder to shear this year.
He said farmers would be "left with a little bit of money" in their pockets, with the cost of shearing a sheep at around €2 but the average fleece now coming in at over €4.
"I remember when it was costing the farmer after paying the shearer," said the All Ireland Champion shearer. Mr Graham urged farmers to remember to keep the wool clean and also not to mix it with black fleeces, that command a lower price and must be separated out.