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Mecardo Blog

Robert Herrmann

Robert Herrmann
Rob is the Managing Director of Ag Concepts Unlimited, an independent specialist agricultural advisory service and publisher of Mecardo. Mecardo provides the latest market analysis and outlook for cattle, sheep, wool and grain markets. Rob has over 30 years of agricultural experience, including 11 years as a senior wool specialist with Elders advising in the marketing and risk management of agricultural commodities.
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Recent Posts

Agtech Visions: Weighing sheep by camera

Posted by Robert Herrmann on 18 November 2017

The assessment of sheep in saleyards by agents, buyers and market reporters is subjective; that is the estimate of liveweight, fat score & carcase weight is a best guess.

Given the importance of accurate assessment, especially to buyers and reporters, wouldn’t it be good if we could add some real time objective measurement to enhance this important sale function at major sheep and lamb auction markets?

This is the first in a regular series of agtech insights, aiming to provide a vision on the future of technology in agriculture.

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Topics: Sheep market, agtech, technology

AWI: Learn from the avocado!

Posted by Robert Herrmann on 25 October 2017

A bad news story will trump a positive story every day, and you would have to be living under a rock to have missed the scrutiny AWI have been under in recent times.

AWI have been criticised for a perceived favouritism of ‘subjective’ over ‘objective’ development, and concerns related to potential conflicts of interest.

Perhaps to balance, we should take an objective look at what should be the focus of the wool industry; and expand our idea around the need to innovate to future proof the wool industry.

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Topics: Wool industry, innovation, agtech

Shut the gate, the Merino’s have bolted!

Posted by Robert Herrmann on 19 July 2017

For some time, we have been writing about our concerns for the Merino Wool industry, noting the “fight for acres” to date has been well and truly won by the croppers. To top it off, the number of ewes now mated to terminal sires has also been growing. It hurts an old shearer/wool classer/wool broker/wool market watcher to see properties that for over a hundred years proudly produced Merino wool, jump ship and either rip out the fences and plant crops, or purchase terminal rams and get into prime lamb production.

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Topics: Wool industry

India beef exports hit for six

Posted by Robert Herrmann on 3 June 2017

The announcement by Prime Minister Modi of a ban on the “sale of any bovine animals for slaughter” has caught analysts of guard, with some early reports filtering through that this is not a major event on the world beef stage; we are not so sure.

It is pretty clear from reading the government decree that failing any backflip by the government, this will impact the slaughter of cows, buffalo and even camels.  

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Topics: Australian cattle industry, beef market, India

To shear or not to shear, is that the question?

Posted by Robert Herrmann on 1 June 2017

For some time, there have been messages from wool processors that much of the Australian wool clip is too long. If this is true then shorter lots should attract a premium – this would be a normal economic lever to attract more of the type, and if that is the case can wool producers justify the additional cost of two shearings in one year?

To get to the bottom of this issue, a full understanding of the situation is needed. It is normal for suppliers (wool growers) to want to meet customer requirements (processors). At the same time, meeting the “new” requirement cannot increase the net costs to the business unless there is an off-setting increase in income.

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Topics: Wool market / wool price, Wool industry

Making money from Merino sheep – it’s the real deal!

Posted by Robert Herrmann on 29 March 2017

Merino sheep have been the cornerstone of farming success for a large area of rural Australia for almost two centuries. In recent times, though, Merino sheep numbers have fallen, with challenges from some of the “other” broad acre farming alternatives such as cropping and prime lamb production. There are plenty of articles and published information for those wanting to look for the financial comparisons of one enterprise to another, or for the performance of wool/merino sheep enterprises over time. The AASMB website has an excellent series of reports that detail the very good returns Merino producers are achieving.

However, despite the profitable times wool and merino sheep have enjoyed in the recent past, the move to prime lambs and the resilience of cropping acres is not abating. We also know of many wool producers who are delighted with their Merino operations, in this article we look at Kurra Wirra and it's work on ABSV's.

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Topics: merino

Are sheep & lamb buyers crazy?

Posted by Robert Herrmann on 24 February 2017

In a recent Mecardo lamb analysis article we highlighted the discrepancy between the sheep &  lamb price quotes coming out of the saleyards compared to the prices quoted for “Over-the-hooks” (OTH) lambs.


At the moment, everyone continues to quote saleyard prices as being miles ahead of OTH prices. We need to remember that not a single lamb in those saleyards has been weighed.  No-one follows 
up with the buyer to work out what they dressed out at.  The market reporting is based on the sale price ($ per head), converted using an estimated weight and an estimated yield to arrive at the cents per kilogram carcass weight.

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An evolution in sheep shearing

Posted by Robert Herrmann on 8 February 2017

The wool industry relies on the shearer as the first stage in the harvesting and movement of wool to its ultimate market. And while this process has been successfully carried out since sheep first arrived in Australia, it is curious that this harvesting system has progressed little over time. The timeline for the evolution of shearing is slow, interrupted with disputes and false starts.

In this blog we look at one innovation with the potential to take wool harvesting to the next evolutionary level.

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Topics: Wool industry, merino

Let's make merino great again

Posted by Robert Herrmann on 25 January 2017

There are times when you just have to stand up; “it’s now or never”. Coaches espouse the need to win the crucial 3rd quarter, the “break” point in a tennis game, or bowl the “dot” ball at a crucial time of a cricket match. “Sometimes there is no next time, no time-outs, no second chances. Sometimes it’s now or never." The playwright Alan Bennet probably wasn’t talking about the wool industry, but he could have been.

Prices are great but the industry is in decline, how do we learn from other industries to save Merino in Australia. How do we make merino great again?

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Topics: Wool industry, Australian wool industry, merino

Grain & Canola NPE contracts, the simple facts

Posted by Robert Herrmann on 3 November 2016

In an attempt to secure supply a recent response from grain traders and merchants to the low world prices is to offer and promote to grain growers No Price Established (NPE) contracts. As with any contract there has to be something in it for the seller, and also something for the buyer. Lets have a quick overview looking from both sides.

It is important to note that NPE contracts come under many different guises including Fast Cash from Agfarm, and Market Advantage from AWB.

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Topics: wheat