Selecting and Raising Sheep for Wool

Sandy Hevener shares her knowledge of selecting and raising sheep for wool, includes information on wool grades, a wool glossary, selecting breeds, protecting sheep from predators and how to shear a sheep.

| August/September 2000

  • Raising sheep for wool.
    Raising sheep for wool.
    SANDY HEVENER
  • Fine crimp and staple length of wool before shearing.
    Fine crimp and staple length of wool before shearing.
    SANDY HEVENER
  • Chart: wool grades.
    Chart: wool grades.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 181-072-1leti

  • Selecting and raising sheep for wool.
    Selecting and raising sheep for wool.
    PHOTO: SANDY HEVENER
  • A small barn with built-in feeders and walls provides sheep protection.
    A small barn with built-in feeders and walls provides sheep protection.
    SANDY HEVENER
  • Sheepcovers help to keep wool clean.
    Sheepcovers help to keep wool clean.
    SANDY HEVENER
  • Border collie fetches ewes from the barn on shearing day.
    Border collie fetches ewes from the barn on shearing day.
    SANDY HEVENER
  • Attached to the right clipper head, this 13 tooth, flared comb is the ideal tool for shearing fine wool.
    Attached to the right clipper head, this 13 tooth, flared comb is the ideal tool for shearing fine wool.
    SANDY HEVENER
  • Beamer removes another ewe's heavy winter coat.
    Beamer removes another ewe's heavy winter coat.
    SANDY HEVENER
  • Sarah Beamer, a professional shearer, makes several smooth body length cuts before the fleece starts to roll off the ewe in a single piece.
    Sarah Beamer, a professional shearer, makes several smooth body length cuts before the fleece starts to roll off the ewe in a single piece.
    SANDY HEVENER
  • Barbara Gentry, shepherd and spinner, weaves a wool rug on a drugget, or barn loom.
    Barbara Gentry, shepherd and spinner, weaves a wool rug on a drugget, or barn loom.
    SANDY HEVENER
  • Selecting and raising sheep for wool.
    Selecting and raising sheep for wool.
    PHOTO: SANDY HEVENER

  • Raising sheep for wool.
  • Fine crimp and staple length of wool before shearing.
  • Chart: wool grades.
  • 181-072-1leti
  • Selecting and raising sheep for wool.
  • A small barn with built-in feeders and walls provides sheep protection.
  • Sheepcovers help to keep wool clean.
  • Border collie fetches ewes from the barn on shearing day.
  • Attached to the right clipper head, this 13 tooth, flared comb is the ideal tool for shearing fine wool.
  • Beamer removes another ewe's heavy winter coat.
  • Sarah Beamer, a professional shearer, makes several smooth body length cuts before the fleece starts to roll off the ewe in a single piece.
  • Barbara Gentry, shepherd and spinner, weaves a wool rug on a drugget, or barn loom.
  • Selecting and raising sheep for wool.

Learn the country skills you need to know when raising sheep for wool. 

It was Mary Child's first visit to West Virginia from Philadelphia — a short journey some 20 years ago to see a friend — and she was stunned. There they stood, lined up against a fence, shimmering in pastel light: a bunch of lambs. It was love at first sight. 

"I was fascinated, drawn to them," she recalls.

Shortly after moving to the place where lambs beckoned her, Child obtained seven or eight Suffolk-based ewes for her plan of raising sheep for wool. The sheep produced sparse, white, medium-weight wool, typical of mutton-type breeds in the region. It wasn't quite what Child had in mind.



Determined to produce dense, soft, naturally colored fleeces, she added to her flock a black, mostly Corriedale ram and a purebred Lincoln ram to improve the wool on future lambs.






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