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AMMO manager giving up the goat

After 27 years and eight months working for the Australian Mohair Marketing Organisation, Jim Stanley thinks it’s just the right time to find something else.
16 June 2017

After 27 years and eight months working for the Australian Mohair Marketing Organisation (AMMO),  Jim Stanley thinks it’s just the right time to find something else.
Starting out as a rousabout and a wool-classer in the sheep industry, getting used to 
mohair was a bit of a learning curve for Mr Stanley.
“When I first got the job, I was working in the shearing sheds, and I’d just finished 
my wool classing course. But there’s a lot of travel involved when you’re wool classing, and I didn’t get a lot of time at home,” Mr Stanley said.
“Back in those days, in the early eighties, I suppose, there was a lot of shearing contractors in Narrandera – if you really wanted work there was that. We didn’t have the feedlot, or the nut farm. 
“A lot of guys started rousabouting in shearing sheds, but it was really hard to break in as a wool classer because a lot of those big farms relied on their usual classers. 
“And then the job at AMMO came along, which is in town, you weren’t camped out in shearing huts which is good.”
Working for AMMO meant that Mr Stanley was able to put his classing skills to good use. Mohair fleece, unlike sheep fleece comes to the brokers in butts, which is then classed and pressed by the brokers.
“When I first started here I didn’t know a lot about mohair, but I sort of knew about wool. I’d classed a couple of sheds by then, but mohair was a totally new concept to me. Trying to learn off the guys who were here – and I was only pressing at the time, but it was important to me to know that what I was pressing, and what I was putting into those bales was actually right. AMMO has always had classing standards, which I have learnt pretty easily. I sort of grew to know what I was doing.”
Having been in the industry for so long, Mr Stanley has seen first-hand how much the quality of Australian mohair has changed.
The mohair industry has its challenges, not least because, as Mr Stanley puts it, “it’s basically a hobby industry.”
“The mohair that Australia produces now is a lot better than the mohair we produced when I started out. And it’s still improving, all the time.
“The mohair in those days was really kemp-y. We used to get a lot of that stuff back in the old days. Kemp is a medulated fibre, it doesn’t take to dye. If you get that in your fibre, you’ve got to try to get it out – they pay less money for it. Then we had the introduction of the Texan animals, which were basically kemp-free, but it carried a lot of grease. It created more lines for us at the time, until they interbred with the Australian stuff. It was surprising how quickly it changed – it didn’t take long for it to be bred into the Australian flock.
“So then along came the South Africans. I guess they thought they had the ability to breed the perfect goat – you had South African, Texan, you had good grease weight, a heavier fleece.
“I think there was a real opportunity to do that, to breed the perfect goat, but the problem was that a lot of smaller producers had never bought Texans, or South Africans, and were still breeding Australian animals. And still to this day there’s a couple of breeders who do that. And it’s got kemp in it.”
Mr Stanley isn’t looking to retire so much as change pace.
“I’m hoping that something will come up. I’ve got a few growers wanting me to class their fibre; I’ve got a couple of mohair buyers looking at a bit of work at their stores, things like that.
“I’ve also got a partner who wants to see her grandkids grow up.”
Mr Stanley and his partner are seriously looking at moving to Holsworthy in Sydney for family, which could be something of a change.
“I’m happy to move and enjoy that with her. I wouldn’t say I’m a Sydney boy – I was born and bred in Narrandera – but I’m still excited, I need a change.
“I’m keen to do some things that you can’t do in Narrandera.”

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