ASCI 223 - Lab 9 - Wool Harvest

ASCI 223 - Lab 9 - Wool Harvest - Wool Harvest, Handling,...

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Wool Harvest, Handling, and Evaluation The majority of the sheep raised in the USA produce wool that should be harvested each year. Because of the unique characteristics of this natural fiber, wool has a market value. The value of each fleece will be determined by the effectiveness of the shearing, by the way the fleeces are handled after shearing, and finally, by the physical characteristics of the fibers themselves. Sheep are normally shorn once each year, most likely in the Spring. A well designed facility, well managed sheep, and skilled shearers will all contribute to maximum income. In order for a shearer to do the best job, the management and facility should combine to make sure that the sheep are comfortable, that the shearer is comfortable, and that the wool can be properly handled after shearing. Management needs to keep several things in mind. Sheep should not be shorn when they are wet. Wet wool on the shearing floor causes a lack of traction for the shearer and will result in a bad shearing job. Wet wool packed into bags or packs will rot and be reduced in value. Therefore, the sheep owner might need to make sure that sheep can be kept under cover if shearing is occurring during wet weather. Keep in mind that heavy fog or a light mist are just as bad as a full fledged downpour. Management also needs to make sure that the digestive tract is relatively empty. Sheep with full rumens are very uncomfortable when forced into the necessary shearing positions. Uncomfortable sheep fight the shearer resulting in more skin cuts and second cuts of the wool fibers. In addition to that, fecal material present in the colon is likely to be dropped on the shearing floor causing a loss of traction for the shearer as well as contamination of the fleece prior to being processed on the skirting table. There are three basic types of shearing facilities. The first is called a bull pen. It is simply a pen which includes the sheep to be shorn as well as the shearer. In a typical situation, a group of <15 sheep would be put in the pen with the shearer. The shearer would grab each one in turn, shear it, and turn it loose. Either the shearer or an assistant would pick up the fleece and toss it outside the pen for handling. When all in that group are sheared, the group is let out and a new group is brought in. In the best of situations, the floor of the bullpen is absolutely level and in on a surface with reasonable traction such as wood. This is a very common set up in small flocks because it is easy to set up and very inexpensive. However, it is the poorest set up for high quality shearing and wool value. The trouble results as a shearer is trying to catch the next sheep. In doing so, sheep are
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ASCI 223 - Lab 9 - Wool Harvest - Wool Harvest, Handling,...

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