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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

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

As the EYCI advances are restockers getting grass fever?

Posted by Robert Herrmann on 5 July 2016

The EYCI has hit an all-time high of 660.50 cents per kg cwt; this brings to the fore the question of where is the top of the cattle market? Has the market peaked? The old adage of “it takes high prices to fix high prices” starts to resonate.

We have also been around long enough to see frenzied bidding when conditions are good and grass is abundant – grass fever!

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Topics: Australian cattle industry, beef market

Dairy farmers left holding the pail

Posted by Robert Herrmann on 30 June 2016

In rural and mainstream news services there is a regular stream of stories recounting the disastrous situation dairy farmers find themselves in as a result of the “claw-backs” advised by the milk processors last month.

Unfortunate as it is, these claw-backs are part and parcel of the milk supply agreements most of the dairy farmers in Australia commit to. In this article we aim to give an insight into dairy contracts for those outwith the dairy industry, and why most of the risk is held by the farmer.

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Topics: dairy

How to deal with animal activists: A lesson from the egg industry

Posted by Robert Herrmann on 20 April 2016

The egg industry is a good example in how to deal with Animal Activists, and perhaps it can provide some ideas for the Australian wool industry around how to respond to the mulesing debate.

The production of cage eggs and the subject of mulesing have been easy targets for the radical activists, however the end result to each industry is starkly different.

When producers are asked, both industries are adamant that their practices (cages and mulesing) are not only humane, but actually improve the welfare of the bird/sheep.

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Topics: Wool industry, Australian wool industry, animal rights

The enemy of my enemy is my friend

Posted by Robert Herrmann on 16 March 2016

The AMIEU acting in the interests of its members comes as no shock – but when they act in the interests of the meat processors we are bemused. Throw in supporting comments from the Animal Activists and you could be excused from thinking the world has gone mad. The ancient proverb 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' could well have been mused with this relationship in mind!

The take away message when you look at the recent press releases from the AMIEU regarding the threat to processing jobs from the Live Export (LE) trade is that the 1.4 million cattle exported last year have the potential to ruin cattle producers, processors and destroy the AMIEU member’s jobs.  I was hoping to read that it was also the cause of Donald Trump’s hair-do but unfortunately no mention.
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Topics: Cattle market / cattle price, live export

Australian wool industry - is it all doom and gloom?

Posted by Robert Herrmann on 10 December 2015

In his iconic 1975 song “Slip sliding away”, Paul Simon most certainly wasn’t talking about the merino sheep industry. However, the lyrics could easily relate to the direction that flock numbers and wool production has taken, especially since the 1990s.

Analysis: Has Merino wool production stopped falling?

In fact, this trend isn’t confined to Australia: the number of sheep worldwide have also fallen over this period.

Usually, the cause of such a decline would be readily understood: low prices, diminished demand, or a combination of the two are the usual culprits.

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Topics: Wool market / wool price, Flock size, Wool industry