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For those who don’t know, fleece is the woolen coat from sheared sheep or ram. Usually, these farm animals are sheared every year at the end of spring. Warm clothing is made using this wool and is usually tanned with the animal’s skin. This product is called a sheepskin.
How fleece is famous in Australia and is exported to various countries worldwide. In this article, we are going to discuss the fleece industry in Australia.
A Brief History of Fleece
Fleece has been the leading product of Australia and helped to shape its economy. The wool-making industry began in 1797 with the arrival of the Spanish Marino Sheep to Australia. Other sheep types existed in Australia before. However, it was primarily used as a source of meat.
Almost 25 years later, the breeding program of the Spanish merino yielded a great result that can produce fleece enough for an auction. Australian wool was sold internationally for the first time in 1821 in London.
The wool industry was thriving, and the country could produce 2 million kilos per year before 1840, making people working in the sheep farm industry wealthy by the 1880s. In 1897, the state’s newspaper described the 1897 Sydney Wool Exchange as remarkable.
The industry was experiencing a decline in the late 1890s due to the Federation drought. However, it recovered, and the formalization of wool industry education helped the business back. During the two world wars and the depression, the fleece industry in Australia declined again and recovered in the 1950s. However, the agricultural industries have taken over Australia’s economic importance by then.
Australian sheep producers’ focus has shifted to meat production since prime lamb demand has been increasing sing the past 50 years. Still, fleece is famous in Australia, and Australian merino wool is still considered a high-quality item with high demand in the fashion and textile industry.
Fleece Production in Australia
Australia is one of the largest wool producers in the world, with 345 million kilos of wool produced every year. In fact, a quarter of greasy wool sold on the world market comes from Australia. The value of wool exports in 2021-2022 reached $3.592 billion.
The majority of Australia’s wool production is exported, mainly to China. This is where the wool is processed before they are turned into clothing.
New South Wales is the leading producer of wool in Australia, followed by Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia. Almost all states in Australia have a wool production industry. Only the Northern Territory does not produce wool.
Australia has become the leading supplier of high-quality wool used for fine apparel. In fact, 90% of the world’s wool supply used for premium wool apparel is from Australia.
Sheep Farm in Australia
Millions of sheep are roaming carefree in the vast paddocks in Australia almost every day of the year. The presence of vast grassland, water from artesian wells, and a cool and dry climate support the sheep breeding and vast wool shearing industry in Australia.
Sheep grows fleece that covers most of their body. These keep them warm during winter and cool during summer. The naturally insulating and cooling properties of the wool protect them from the extreme Australian weather.
How fleece is famous in Australia thanks to the Merino sheep brought to this country. This type of sheep breed produces the highest quality of wool compared to other breeds. The wool produced is finer than other breeds.
The Merino wool fibers are one-third of human hair’s diameter. The Superfine Merino wool is even finer than cashmere. This quality of wool makes Australian wool qualified for high-quality manufacture of high-end and quality apparel.
Sixty-eight million sheep were bred in Australia and looked after by 60,000 woolgrowers. These numbers show how massive the wool industry is in Australia. That is why it is not surprising how this country has become the leading wool production in Australia.
This is the story of how fleece is famous in Australia and the story behind it. With the massive demand for wool in the world and its massive production in Australia, it seems like the country will still become the leading producer of wool in the world.