Preparing for Shearing

As summer comes to a close, the fall is full of management tasks in all areas of livestock production that need to be accomplished prior to the new year. For the small ruminant industry, shearing is one of those important tasks. In this episode of Forage Focus, OSU faculty and staff emphasize the importance of pasture management when preparing for the shearing of fleeced livestock. The presence of pasture weeds and time spent grazing prior to shearing can negatively impact the value and quality of your wool clip. For more tips on how to appropriately preparing for shearing day, be sure to take a listen to this short clip. We would also like to thank the Dave Cable Farm and 2021 Statewide Sheep Shearing School participants for their help in creating this film. For those interested in participating in any of our up-coming sheep shearing courses, please watch this page for event announcements.

Nuts and Bolts of Wool

Sponsored by the American Sheep Industry Association, Dr. Lisa Surber of LM Livestock Services discusses several topics in the wool industry including potential contaminates, how to market wool, as well as some trends in wool end uses. For those that still have wool on hand from spring shearing, this presentation will certainly be worth the listen.

American Wool Assurance Program

American Sheep Industry
(American Wool Assurance (AWA) homepage)

The American Wool Assurance website launched today at AmericanWoolAssurance.org, allowing American sheep producers to take a crucial step in certifying their wool through this voluntary, American industry-driven certification process.

The American Sheep Industry Association worked with Colorado State University the past two years to develop the voluntary program and standards that will allow manufacturers to purchase American wool with confidence that the animals producing that wool have been raised with a high level of care. Industry input from producers, shearers, buyers, extension, animal welfare experts and processors was critical in development of program standards.

“This is something that consumers and brands are asking for increasingly, and so it has become Continue reading

The Use of Wool in Compost and other Alternative Applications

Dr. Cate Williams, Institute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences (IBERS), Aberystwyth University
(Previously published by Business Wales.gov: July 23, 2020)

(Image Source: Wind Valley Farms)

How many of you still have wool on hand from last years wool clip? Have you decided when, where, and how you will sell it if at all? For those that are unsure, perhaps you could consider implementing a few of these alternative applications that would greatly benefit your operation this year and for many more to come.

  • Sheep’s wool offers many benefits when used in a mixture as compost or mulch: as a source of slow-release nitrogen and other trace elements, in weed and pest control, moisture retention and temperature regulation.
  • Wool may be used as a sustainable, renewable, and environmentally friendly alternative to peat.
  • Other alternative uses include in thermal and noise insulation, particularly in the construction of new “eco-houses”.
  • Further research is needed to establish optimum composting strategies and mixtures as well as how to upscale the process.

As the market for wool declines, producers may be looking for alternative ways to make use of their fleeces, particularly

Continue reading

Sheep and Wool Producers Checklist: Getting Ready for the Shearer

Richard Brzozowski, Small Ruminant Specialist, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
(Previously published under the University of Maine: Cooperative Extension Publications)

Factors such as sheep health, nutrition, breed, bedding materials, forage feeding methods, moisture level, barn, and pasture conditions, stress as well as shearing technique, wool handling, and storage can influence the value of the wool harvested.

The quality of wool ought to be on the mind of the producer year-round as management decisions made months before shearing can affect the raw product and ultimately the finished products.

Your preparations for shearing will likely affect your bottom line. View your shearer (or shearing team) as a professional who is invited to your farm to accomplish this important task. Seek their input as you prepare your sheep and the facilities for shearing.

This checklist is designed as a basic framework to help producers make shearing day efficient and uneventful. Feel free to make changes to this checklist for your situation. Continue reading

How to Shear Sheep – Blow by Blow

In preparation for both fall and winter lambing, shearing the ewe flock is an important management practice that should be considered to improve the efficiency of your operation. Shearing sheep can be made easy when following this technique step by step or, in sheep terms, blow by blow. Ensuring that your sheep is in the correct location at all times will result in a low stress and successful shearing job. For those interested in learning more on how to properly shear your sheep, be on the look out for announcements in regards to our sheep shearing schools in 2021. Happy Shearing!

Global Concern: How to Receive More for Your Wool Clip

David Rowe, General Manager, Mid-States Wool Growers

People raise sheep for a variety of reasons. Most people are drawn to a particular breed because they like the way they look, they wish to show this breed or they know someone who raises this breed. All are good reasons to raise a breed, but the question on how to make money has not even been asked? As we know, the primary reason for most people to raise sheep is to produce a successful lamb crop that can be marketed as well as a wool clip that can be sold. Obviously, the hair breeds will only yield a lamb crop but for the purpose of this article, we will focus strictly on breeds of sheep that yield a wool clip and how we can best maximize our return on the wool we have to market. Continue reading

An Alternative Use for Wool

Tim Lundeen, Feedstuffs editor
(Previously published in Feedstuffs, Nutrition and Health: August 17, 2018)

Wool may offer dietary protein source.

Wool protein hydrolysates offer promise as functional ingredient in pet foods as well as other foods and feeds.

Developing new products from available resources often requires scientists to think differently, and such new products can offer new revenue streams for animal agriculture sectors.

Researchers with New Zealand’s AgResearch have discovered that proteins from wool can be added to the diets of animals to improve their health, opening up a new market for the sheep industry. Continue reading

Wool Sheep Judging Tips

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

This past weekend at the University of Findlay, sheep breeders, judges, and enthusiast alike joined for a day filled with wool sheep breed judging advice, knowledge, and experience. The focus of this workshop was to expose judgers how to appropriately evaluate fleeces and wool sheep breeds. Continue reading