Raising Sheep for Excellent-Quality Wool, Part 2: Proper Skirting and Shearing


Crimp and Luster of Bond Fleece 

Beautifully organized crimp and luster in the wool of a Bond sheep.

Photo by Kat Ludlam

In Part 1 of this series, I discussed how choosing your sheep, selectively breeding them, and feeding them properly greatly effects the quality of wool and value of your finished wool products.

How you handle the wool during shearing and afterwards also has a big impact on the quality and value. Many a beautifully grown fleece is ruined after it is removed from the sheep due to improper handling. But before considering how to handle your fleece, it is important to understand breaks in the fleece.

Breaks in the Fleece

A break in the fleece is a section of each fiber that is thinner and more fragile than the rest of the fiber. They are caused by stress or poor nutrition. If there is a time during the growth of the fleece where the animal undergoes a lot of stress (moving to a new location, giving birth and lactating, being chased by a predator, etc) the fleece won’t grow as strong during that time, thus creating the “break,” or weak spot, in each fiber. If there is a time during the year where they are not getting adequate nutrition, that can cause a break as well.

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