Going back to the farmer: New Zealand wool
At Camira we like to know where our wool comes from. Our New Zealand wool is produced through strict sustainable farming and animal husbandry, and we even know some of the national sheep farms which rear the sheep and shear the wool, which goes into our fabrics such as Blazer and Synergy.
One of Wools of New Zealand’s growers paid us a visit to see what happens to the wool they produce. Bull Stock Ltd. is an accredited farm that has been supplying wool to Wools of New Zealand for four years.
Claire and Gerald Bull have three farms located in the North Island: at Ngaruawahia and Raglan in the Waikato and Wairoa in Northern Hawkes Bay totalling over 4,700 hectares where they breed and farm sheep, and cattle. All three farms are in high rainfall areas with over 152cm annually, with warm and humid conditions.
The Bulls' flock total is approximately 6,600 ewes. The breed of sheep is Romney based which is known for its wool production and quality. They aim to breed 6,000 lambs and around 27,000kg of wool each year – that's a lot of wool! Typically, the wool from the ewes is used for making carpets and the lamb's wool is what goes into some of our fabrics, specifically Synergy and Blazer.
From fleece to fabric
- Each farm has its own woolshed and seasonally employs four shearers, three rousies – who sweep and sort – and a presser who bales the wool. All live within the local community.
- This team shear over 200 sheep per shearer per day.
- Shearing of the ewes is twice yearly: early summer in December/January and early winter in June/July, when the ewes are pregnant. This requires special management involving cover combs, saved pasture and shelter to limit stress on the ewe. When sheep are shorn they are closely monitored for a week and fed on saved pasture in sheltered paddocks to allow the skin to adapt and close the wool fibres to provide a protective barrier against the elements.
- The cyclical nature of wool growth is one of the reasons for winter shearing. This minimises the effects of wool fibre thinning to the beginning of the new fibre growth. Another major reason for shearing at this time of the year is for the welfare of the flock; ewe mobility and udder access for newborn lambs are important factors.
- Lambs are born in August/September outdoors in paddocks. The Bulls’ farms are hill country where there is generally shelter from the worst of the weather conditions but luckily the farms do not get snow in those areas.
- Lamb shearing is done December/January, this is the time that is best for the comfort and wellbeing of the lambs who are approximately four months old.
- Once shorn, the wool is pressed into 180kg bales, collected by trucks and taken to the Wools of New Zealand depot.
- Wools of New Zealand put farm lots together based on wool types and specifications as required by Camira, plus details of the farms who have supplied the wool giving total traceability.
The wool supplied to Camira from Wools of New Zealand comes from a number of farms, all like the Bull Farm who are working hard to ensure their wool is of the highest quality. For more information about the New Zealand growers and the benefits of wool, visit Wools of New Zealand.