How to Raise Sheep for Wool
Raising sheep for wool was the major income source for sheep breeding in the early 1900s. But as the value of wool as a commodity started to
decline, farmers and breeders adapted, raising sheep for wool specifically for area of interest marketing. Fleeces sold to specialty markets or
hand spinners will fetch more as opposed to being sold commercially. A pound of fleece can bring as much as $15 in comparison to just 75 cents in
the local market. Cooperatives also help in adding value to a producer's wool. Small quantities of wool can also be made into custom yarn,
blanket, or cloth.
Hand spinners desire high quality wool the most. A producer who would like to produce high quality type takes special care in feeding, housing,
grooming, and raising the sheep. Farmers often skirt fleeces in fleecing wool. Skirting is the process of getting rid of undesirable parts of the
fleece. Parts taking away include this type: belly, coarse, cotted, stained, tags, and short.
In raising sheep for wool, most farmers often use covers to keep the fleece from getting dirty. This also protects the fleece from the sun's
ultraviolet rays, which causes fading and damage. Wool also grows more under covers and in general softer than wool that grew without covers. The
covers have to be changed periodically to keep the sheep well airy and clean. An entire industry of producing sheep covers has sprung up as a
result of this. Regular sheep covers are produced from nylon.
Except for raising sheep for wool that produces excellent fleece, a producer will also need to be proficient at shearing. Shearing is the process
of separating the woolen fleece of a sheep. A fleece's quality is established by wool classing; a process wherein wool of similar grade and
quality are classified and sold together to increase its value. It will also need to be cleaned, called scouring, getting rid of grease and dirt
from the fleece. It can be immersed in warm water, or can be cleaned with detergents and alkali.
A wool's quality is very important in raising sheep for wool. Reasons that have a bearing on a it's quality include: color, crimp, fiber
diameter, staple strength and yield. Of these aspects, fiber diameter is the most significant. The finer it is, the better its price will be.
Merino type ( in general given to be one of the greatest wool on the market) grows about 3-5 inches in length and is fine (12-24 microns). In
general, the smaller it is in microns, the better it is. Those types which are finer than 25 microns are used for clothing while coarser wools
are made into rugs and outerwear.
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