For three generations ‘Oxton Park’ at Harden NSW has been run by the O’Connor family. Passed down through the generations, Paul O’Connor has been running Oxton Park with his two brothers and a cousin since his father and uncle both passed away in 1999.
‘I work with my two brothers and my cousin who along with our extended families run Oxton Park. We also have 7 permanent employees 2 of which are second generation employees who have been here for over 20 years and before that their father worked on Oxton Park for 40 years. There are also 2 members of the next generation working on Oxton Park. Both my brothers, my cousin and myself are all married with grown up children of which some have chosen to carry on the tradition of farming and grazing on Oxton Park and have already started their own families who I’m sure will carry on the business of growing wool well into the future.’
Strong family values have always stood strong to them. While past generations play an integral part in their story, the future is where they are headed. The 7800ha property boasts a 30,000 strong flock of self-replacing merinos, that meet the demands of the modern market.
‘For about 20 years now, we have been breeding what I consider to be called a modern merino. A plain bodied, dual purpose animal capable of producing a lovely soft wool on a fast-growing body. We have created our own bloodline by breeding our own rams since 1995. As a result of breeding in this direction we have very productive animals from a meat, wool and reproductive point of view that no longer need to be mulesed (since 2008)’
‘We aim to produce a 7.5 kg well nourished, super soft and well defined 18.5-19 micron fleece with lots of lustre suitable for the fast growing next to skin active wear market. There is a real satisfaction producing something that is capable of growing a lovely soft wool, that goes on to become such a wonderful end product that is very much in demand all over the world. Almost every other day we hear about a new wonderful product made from merino wool. The fact that it can be produced in such a sustainable way and is completely biodegradable is also very rewarding.’
Producing such an elite fibre is only possible through placing great importance on the care and welfare of the animals and nurturing the land of Oxton Park. These values are what first attracted Paul to the Authentico Integrity Scheme.
‘I like the idea of being involved in a quality assurance program that recognises growers that produce sustainable and ethically grown wool. This scheme gives confidence to the customer that the wool they are purchasing has been produced in an ethical and sustainable way. We all benefit if the end user has faith and confidence in the way we all work towards producing an end product we can all be proud of.’
While the Integrity Scheme is providing confidence to Oxton Park’s end customers, it is also providing further insight into their customer’s values.
‘Authentico has made us aware that our customers appreciate how well we look after and care about our animals, the environment and the people who work for us. We have definitely seen a premium paid for our non mulsed wool and enjoy a closer connection with the processor and the end user of our raw material.’