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TAS Country : August 11th 2011
4 Tasmanian Country Friday, August 12, 2011 News Wool producers are on clover KAROLIN MacGREGOR WOOL production in Tas- mania is set to increase as excellent seasonal con- ditions continue to boost grower confidence. The combination of seasonal conditions, in- creasing flock numbers and better wool cuts has seen Australian Wool Test- ing Authority figures for Tasmania increase by 6 per cent during the past year and that is expected to keep going up this season. Roberts wool marketing manager Eric Hutchinson said improving wool and sheep prices and wide- spread rains had given growers the confidence to retain more ewes over the past year in an effort to rebuild their flocks. ''The seasonal con- ditions are definitely a ma- jor factor,'' he said. ''Most of the wool grow- ing areas, even down through the Midlands and around areas like Bothwell and the Derwent Valley, have had a very good summer and autumn and the rain is continuing now, setting them up for an- other good spring. ''So that gives growers confidence knowing they've got plenty of feed out there.'' Mr Hutchinson said good feed through the autumn period normally contributed to high vol- ume production per sheep. With record prime lamb prices and wool prices also at the best levels seen for some time, he said retain- ing ewes to produce wool and lambs was now a highly attractive option. ''I think there are not too many people out there run- ning big numbers of weth- ers, but certainly the num- ber of ewes retained has gone up,'' he said. The comments come as the Australian Wool Inno- vation forecast committee released its national pro- duction estimates. Production across the country this year is ex- pected to reach 355 million kilograms greasy, a jump of about 3 per cent com- pared to 2010-11. Sheep numbers are ex- pected to increase by 4 per cent, from a low of 68 mil- lion last year. Committee chairman Russell Pattinson said there was strong evidence that growers across the country were planning to reinvest in sheep and wool. In addition, sheep turn- off and slaughter numbers have dropped substan- tially. Higher than average lambing and weaning rates around the country are also expected to boost over- all flock numbers. The committee estimates open- ing sheep numbers will be about 70.8 million. Mr Hutchinson said with good amounts of feed on many properties and good prices the incentive to increase numbers was there. ''If you look at it in dollar terms, if you can cut $60-$80 worth of wool a head depending on wool micron and type, and you know there's run country out there with plenty of feed on it, that's a pretty good option,'' he said. ''Overall things are look- ing fairly positive for the sheep and wool industry at the moment.'' Fighting spirit saves the hall KAROLIN MacGREGOR FUN TIMES: Nikki Atkins and son Oliver, 4, outside the hall which has been saved from closure. A DETERMINATION not to lose their local hall has reunited members of the Dairy Plains community. When plans to sell off the Dairy Plains Memorial Hall came to light about five years ago members of the local community banded together to save it. Their determination paid off and ownership of the hall was taken on by the Meander Valley Council. Since then a hard-working committee of about 12 locals has used money from fundraising and available grants to pay for a major facelift of the historic hall. Hall committee secretary Nikki Atkins said in some ways the threat of the closure had reignited community spirit in the area. ''It was a real motivator for the local community because no one wanted to see it close,'' she said. ''Dairy Plains is like a lot of these small rural areas, without the hall you could drive through here and not even know it exists.'' The council ownership of the hall has solved the insurance issues and also provides an ongoing incentive for locals to use the hall. ''If we don't use it the council will close it, so that's something we want to avoid,'' Mrs Atkins said. Over the past five years the committee has overseen a number of major improvements to the hall which include installing a new, modern kitchen and having the original timber floors sanded and resealed. When the nearby Red Hills hall was closed, that community donated all its cutlery and crockery to Dairy Plains, so the kitchen is now fully equipped for catering. Through its fundraising efforts the committee has also built new fences around the hall, bought a large number of tables and chairs and, through a funding grant, will soon have the hall's roof repainted. The hall was originally built as a memorial to the men and women who served in both world wars. Over time the hall had become quite dilapidated, but it was now once again a central meeting place for the community. The hall is used weekly for indoor bowls and the community also has a local book club that meets there. ''We're very passionate about our hall . . . over time as more people moved into town, a lot of halls almost become redundant, but it's come back the other way here now,'' she said. ''We're doing this not just for us but for the next generation as well and the kids love coming here.'' The committee has one major fundraising event each year. This year it will be a Mad Hatter's Challenge evening on September 24. The evening will include all types of games, puzzles and trivia activities. Participants are encouraged to put together a team with a theme and prizes will be awarded for the most creative hats and outfits. The Mad Hatter's Challenge will get under way at 7pm at the hall. Entry will cost $12 and includes supper, or a team of eight can enter for $80. Anyone interested in attending the Mad Hatter evening can contact Veronica Terry on 0437 664 776 or email email@example.com. People interested in hiring the hall contact Mrs Atkins on 0438 447 780. NURSING S RS I S IS I I GIN R GR UR NURSING R R Nursing scholarships are available in the following areas: freecall c lar rc a. rg.a www rcna org au CNA or the etails eligibility an applications please go to our website N r g a All e eal c lar a r c e e (NA ) f e e A ral a er e . 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