Westcoast leads new markets for WA wool growers
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Westcoast leads new markets for WA wool growers

AUSTRALIAN-owned wool business, Westcoast Wool & Livestock, has invested in certification to the
global Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) now increasingly demanded by major retail brands,
opening new markets to local growers and the opportunity for above auction prices.

The company also has partnered with AWEX to promote the use of SustainaWOOL.

Westcoast Wool & Livestock is the State’s first brokering company to gain certification to the RWS,
an independent, consumer-driven, voluntary standard recognising best practices of farmers for their
sheep and land management. It also was the first in WA to partner with AWEX and the Australian
industry’s SustainaWOOL Integrity Scheme, ensuring it has sustainability and traceability programs
for all growers to leverage benefits.

These latest moves are attracting an increasing number of growers keen to market wool through the
company under both systems.

Coordinator of RWS and SustainaWOOL for Westcoast Wool & Livestock, Justin Haydock, said the company understood the push coming from the consumer level and the programs were about
acknowledging farmers were “doing the right thing’’.
“As a broker, we understand we have a responsibility to offer growers the best possible avenues to
market – that is why we are leading the industry and promoting the programs in WA,’’ Justin said.
He said under RWS, which is managed by the Textile Exchange, farms must meet certain standards in
the areas of animal welfare, land management and social welfare. Justin conducts the required onfarm audits for RWS-certified wools.

Brad and Justin discuss some of the wools from Westcoast Wool & Livestock grower clients targeted for the RWS and SustainaWOOL programs. Justin says wool types range from short fleece wools through to cardings and pieces, and while prices can vary, market premiums are definitely available.

 

Brad and Justin discuss some of the wools from Westcoast Wool & Livestock grower clients targeted for the RWS and SustainaWOOL programs. Justin says wool types range from short fleece wools through to cardings and pieces, and while prices can vary, market premiums are definitely available.

Westcoast Wool & Livestock participated in an independent audit to gain its own RWS certification,
which incorporated the company’s wool store operations and management, occupational health and
safety, and full traceability from the moment wool entered its stores through to its sale.
“We have previously had exclusive relationships with processing partners, but under the RWS, we
can sell wool through to any exporter, mill or buyer in the world,’’ Justin said.
“We are currently working closely with five to six different companies, from exporters through to
processors, each looking at the next RWS clips we will have available and their ‘specs’.’’Westcoast Wool & Livestock commences promoting the wools up to a month prior to test results
being available, then offers either direct or via auction.

Westcoast Wool & Livestock participated in an independent audit to gain its own RWS certification,
which incorporated the company’s wool store operations and management, occupational health and
safety, and full traceability from the moment wool entered its stores through to its sale.
“We have previously had exclusive relationships with processing partners, but under the RWS, we
can sell wool through to any exporter, mill or buyer in the world,’’ Justin said.
“We are currently working closely with five to six different companies, from exporters through to
processors, each looking at the next RWS clips we will have available and their ‘specs’.’’Westcoast Wool & Livestock commences promoting the wools up to a month prior to test results
being available, then offers either direct or via auction.

 

Mike Henderson
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Mike Henderson

The bloke next door!

FOR those of us with the XY chromosomes, Mike Henderson could very nearly be the admirable “bloke next door’’!

While as a young New Zealander he may have had early sights on being an All Black, Mike’s talent shone through in other areas that he has put to good use and his positive, caring attitude, zest for life and focus on enjoying the trappings of home and family is infectious.

A great people person, Mike knows he’s on the right track to growing old and happy with no regrets, especially when there is a guitar on hand, a line to wet, beer in the fridge, the scent of a seasoned barbecue and old mates around to share it all with.

It was this big!

He originally journeyed across the ditch and decided to come shearing in WA in 1981. Four decades later and he is still here, settled at Dongara on the Batavia Coast.

 

“Play it again Mike!’’

In 1997, Mike took the mantle of Australian Shearing Champion and continued to represent Australia and WA as a shearer, with the 1998 world shearing championships in Gorey, Ireland, a major highlight.

Chalking-up 40 years in the wool industry, Mike commenced a shearing contracting business in 2001 and is building towards a decade as an agent for Westcoast Wool & Livestock. Along the way he has achieved other major milestones – 25 years with his wife, Rachel, whom he shares five children with.

He loves talking up the industry, making things as hassle-free as possible for growers, and, as Westcoast continues to grow, he will remain focused on always recognising its roots and “keeping it local’’.

While Mike’s caring and consistent approach is a trademark, it doesn’t stop superstitions – yeah, many of us know bananas on boats is taboo, but the idea of green jelly making it rain has been put to the test in recent seasons.

Of course, the All Blacks still get a keen following, probably matched by the tuning into Bloomberg on the telly, but Mike is happy with the fruits of the local industry, especially when it comes to enjoying a favourite lamb chop and Badgingarra Pie.

Jane Bushby
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Jane Bushby

LIVING THE DREAM!

GET to know how Jane Bushby really ticks and classic Aussie movie characters like Kenny Smyth and Darryl Kerrigan come to mind.

Jane will openly declare her love for all things farming, livestock and horses; has a soft spot for a romantic story; has played an honest role in her own funny yarn; lives by some principles that will give you a tickle; and some may say “don’t get into a game of spoons with her around a card table’’!

Even in an AFL dominated State, she will still take cricket and the Aussies over our winter game.

All this and as an agent for Westcoast Wool & Livestock at Pingaring, she says she is “living the dream’’…a famous Aussie line I think we have heard from similar types before!

Jane recognises you see more lunch times than lunches in this industry, but she has never knocked back a long black coffee and a homemade pie.

Yep! There’s already the elements of another great Aussie movie there with a likeable character who has some interesting life superstitions: “Don’t trust a skinny cook, don’t walk under ladders and never start a job on a Friday’’!

You know rusted-on rural types like this never leave and so only have one great fear – getting old and having to live in town!

Farming has been in the blood for Jane, growing up on properties around Boyup Brook before venturing to the broadacre region near Lake Grace, where she operated her own Poll Dorset stud for 20 years.

Over time, it has generated a great respect for the Merino ewe and certainly a soft spot for crossbred lambs of any breeding.

Jane’s livestock knowledge has developed over years of being around those in the industry who know best, and she’s continued to extend on that by completing courses on livestock trading and stock handling since joining Westcoast.

Her strong passion means everyone in the industry is important and she especially loves to see a happy sheep producer. 

Jane has now chalked-up six years in the industry with Westcoast and has enjoyed its transition from “the new kid on the block’’ to having a healthy, growing foothold under its excellent leadership.

She is hoping the lack of water in various areas won’t put too much more pressure on the State’s ewe flock and current values for sheep meats can be sustained and encourage producers to stick with livestock – and maybe even lure others to jump on board.

 

 

Now! Back to some of the scenes for the next Aussie character movie…one day Jane and a fellow Westcoast agent were packing up weigh scales after weighing some heavy Poll Dorset cross lambs at a client’s property. “Picking up the air compressor, I heard water sloshing around in the tank, so I turned the tap on to let the water and air out and surprised everyone, especially the 300-plus lambs which, as one, tried to get as far from the offending noise as possible,’’ Jane says. “I turned the tap off in time to hear wooden fence posts crack off at ground level. The whole back fence fell over and there was nothing we could do but watch the lambs’ hasty but short-lived escape. Expecting and deserving a reprimand, I turned to look at the farmer, who said: “That’s okay Jane. It needed replacing anyway.” Yep, embarrassing, says Jane.

There was another occasion when she was drafting ewes and lambs on a property south of Pingrup. It was a warm day in late spring and the client was shearing. “It was a recently purchased farm and nobody had lived there for a while,’’ Jane says. “We hadn’t even got out of the car when we saw a long brown tail slither into a big pile of old wood posts. The client left us drafting while he went for a coffee, reporting on his return that as he walked from the ute to the house, he saw another one disappear under the house. Just as we were leaving, a frightened Kiwi roustabout came running out of the shearing shed saying a snake had just come through the shed. She wasn’t game to go back in and pick up the wool, but the shearers, safe on the raised board, wouldn’t stop.’’ 

Jane also tells a good story around one of her prized possessions – her great grandmother’s engagement ring she inherited upon her mother’s passing in 2018. “My great grandfather was fighting in France in World War 1. In the heat of battle, he decided that if he made it through the war, he would marry his sweetheart. The opportunity to purchase a ring came along and he bought ‘the ring’ second-hand off some local French people. He kept it safe till he returned home to England and the rest is history.’’ Jane would love to know the complete history of said engagement ring.

When away from “living the dream’’, Jane enjoys her other loves: a gorgeous two-year-old granddaughter and three horses that she is having a blast with while studying natural horsemanship.

And when she’s perched in front of the telly with the feet up into the evening, just put on Kath and Kim, any British comedy or a classic Aussie movie like Muriel’s Wedding or The Castle. Yep – how’s the serenity!  

Justin Haydock
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Justin Haydock

ONE OF THE LADS, BUT DON'T NEEDLE HIM!!

JUSTIN Haydock was a typical knockabout youngster, enjoying time with his mates through the Great Southern and dreaming of playing football in the AFL.

He may now be carving out a career in the wool industry as Westcoast Wool & Livestock’s wool adviser in the region, but otherwise not much has changed. When he is not getting down to business, sport fills much of the airwaves, thanks to also having Kayo Sports close at hand.

Justin is a fan of the West Coast Eagles and also has a soft spot for the Blues (surely must only be a Judd thing!), but any sport will do – NBA, soccer, tennis and the rest.

He still likes to execute a good punt, only it’s long since moved from the football field to an online betting platform.

It’s also not surprising that an easy-go character like this could cook all year with his favourite implement, the BBQ, in between visits to the Mount Barker Bakery – and, of course, with his mates around to share in the procedure the normal Australian way!

What is surprising is despite one’s exterior, there can always be a soft underbelly somewhere – enter needles. So, don’t expect Justin to jump on the lamb vaccinator at tailing anytime soon!

Now working for a company with Westcoast in its name, Justin is just as passionate about the industry, the business and supporting growers with great service as he is for the blue and gold.

Excelling in his career, helping build a company for the future and providing the best possible service to woolgrower clients is what drives him today.

Justin sees an exciting path ahead for Westcoast on the back of its growth in recent years, the fact it is locally owned and with good young staff and training support.

He hopes some good seasons for growers and improved prices can help increase wool production and expects technology to play a strong role in the industry in future.

Justin has now chalked-up five of his eight years in the industry with Westcoast, but it all started for him with a traineeship in rural services after growing up at Dumbleyung and attending Narrogin Agriculture College.

 

The early training days focused on stock agency and rural merchandise in the Katanning and Kojonup areas before he moved into a junior wool technical position in Perth, where he also learned the ropes of auctioneering. He collected a Cert III in rural services and Cert IV in wool classing along the way too.

He then took these skills to Melbourne for a few years before kicking off with Westcoast as a private wool buyer based from Albany and now settled back in Perth again.