Prince sheepish over performance in shearing shed during stud visit

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Leaping lambs are an everyday site on farms but the Prince of Wales had to contend with a much older jumper as he highlighted Australia’s world leading wool trade.

Charles watched as a sheep almost jumped out of a pen in its desperation to follow the rest of the flock during a visit to a Tasmanian holding.

The Prince had come to learn how the Thornbury family produced highly-prized merino wool, used to make luxury knitwear, jumpers and cloth for Italian suits, on their Leenavale Sheep Stud.

He was sporting a grey pin-stripe double-breasted suit by Anderson & Sheppard made from a rare quality of Australian Merino wool.

Charles did well to keep the mud off his expensive trousers when he was taken into a pen by Brent Thornbury who, with brother Jason, is the fourth generation of his family to run the sheep stud which covers 5,000 hectares and has around 12,000 merino sheep.

They watched as the sheep were moved along a narrow run into a pen before going into a shed where they would be sheared.

One enthusiastic farm dog called Zig, an Australian kelpie, jumped up and ran on to the backs of the sheep, which then began leaping into the air.

Inside the shearing shed, which had a corrugated iron roof and smelled strongly of sheep droppings, the Prince and Mr Thornbury watched shearers expertly snip off fleeces in three minutes.

Lucy Byers, 35, was gathering up the wool and skilfully tossing it on to a table to be graded by other workers.

Charles tried his hand at throwing the fleece and sheepishly said afterwards: “I didn’t do it to well”.

Charles is patron of the Campaign for Wool – an international initiative he launched in 2008 to help boost the wool trade which was experiencing a drop in demand and falling prices.

He mentioned the jumping sheep when he met well-wishers later in the Tasmanian city of Hobart during a brief walkabout in torrential rain.