What’s the secret to producing the very best wool fibre quality? It’s simple. By looking after the sheep.
Dave Maslen is General Manager for Markets and Sustainability at New Zealand Merino. He says, “A healthy, well-fed, well-nourished and well looked-after sheep with minimal stress is going to produce the best fibre quality. ZQRX guarantees that by making sure there’s sufficient quality controls in place long before the sheep goes into the woolshed.”
Dave says ZQRX fibre quality is driven by the farmer. It’s how they manage the soil, the pasture and how they manage the animal’s nutritional needs. “So the farmer’s job is really to bring all of those aspects together to look after that animal, because healthy sheep are going to produce good quality wool.”
The wool is collected by shearing a sheep - It’s like a number four haircut, but for sheep! This is usually carried out once a year, in early springtime, to ensure they still have their woolly coats for the cold winter months. Shearers are highly skilled and pride themselves on careful handling of the sheep.
After hundreds of years of breeding and producing wool, shearing sheep is also about keeping the animals comfortable, relieving them from having to endure the hot summer months with a heavy fleece.
ZQRX wool is supplied by contracts which are very specific about fibre quality. “Things like fibre length, fibre strength and fibre diameter are spelled out in the contract.” To make sure the wool meets those requirements, every single fleece is hand-inspected and sorted by fibre quality.
“So there’s millions of sheep that are shorn each year for ZQRX and each fleece is hand selected. Every single one. A highly skilled ‘classer’ of wool inspects the fibre’s quality and assesses whether it meets each contract specification, or not. So it’s absolutely customised to the individual brand requirements,” Dave says.
For growers, ZQRX is a journey of improvement, accurate measurements and shared wisdom. Growers are challenged to go beyond sustainability by deeply understanding the complex interactions between their livestock, soils, climate, ecology and community.
ZQRX wool growers not only produce the highest quality, most ethical wool in the world, they also work to give more than they take from the natural world, the animals living in that world, and the human communities interacting with it.
Growers use a new platform called the Regenerative Index (RX) to help them measure and improve how much they give back as they restore waterways, protect native species, offset carbon, and enhance local communities.
ZQRX wool is essentially a recipe for how we might produce and consume things in the future where products will not only change our lives for the better, they will change our entire world for the better by giving a little more than they take.