Texas Agri-Life Research

In June 2016 ASI published a report entitled: “U.S. Sheep Industry Research, Development, And Education Priorities.” This report found that twenty-five percent of survey respondents identified wool production as either their primary or secondary type of operation. Adapting to the requirements of a global and domestic market is increasingly challenging for the American producer. Many growers have limited exposure to marketing expectations. There is a growing market trend toward local and American grown, raised, produced and constructed apparel. The wool labs in Montana and Texas will be the facilitator of many interactions between wool growers, processors and manufacturers. Expanding avenues of domestic use are in the knitting sectors of the wool industry and include outdoor and active wear garments and socks. In certain regions of the US, there is a need to identify critical acceptable thresholds of non-wool contaminants such as hair. The hair-sheep segment of the US sheep industry continues to impact quality of the US wool clip. The goal of this proposal is to provide leadership and technical assistance to American sheep producers on wool production, preparation and marketing to help improve the quality, marketing efficiency and competitiveness of US wool both internationally and domestically. The objectives are: (1) To provide educational outreach programs for producers, stakeholders and end users of American wool. (2) To develop, evaluate and implement systems to identify non-wool contaminants and determine source.  (3) Continue to evaluate new technology and application in wool metrology. (4) Investigate value based pricing of wool. Wool education has been identified as a major need within the sheep industry because of the decreased number of states in the US with a university sheep and wool program.  Montana State University and Texas A&M University are the only remaining university wool labs in the US.  Funding will allow these universities to expand their research and outreach efforts to meet the national needs of wool growers and to increase the value of their product.

Objective 1) To provide educational outreach programs for producers and stakeholders of American wool aimed at improving wool quality and reducing contaminants and encourage the use of Code of Practice standards.

Objective 2) Apply light microscopy and Raman spectroscopy to detect and identify non-wool contaminants in wool fabrics. Continue to develop near infrared spectroscopy calibrations to predict lab scoured yield from side samples.

Objective 3) Evaluate the FibreLux Micron Meter for on farm wool classing.

Objective 4) Investigate value based pricing of wool using average fiber diameter, yield, and price data provided by Producers Marketing Coop Inc. (PMCI).

     Objective 1) San Angelo will provide the following educational programs:

·         Shearing school

·         Angora futurity

·         Annual Sheep & Goat Field Day & Expo

·         Wool judging training for teams from Texas A&M, Angelo State, & Kansas State

Anticipated outcomes from these activities include increased adoption of Code of Practice standards and resulting improving wool quality and reducing contaminants. One of the universities that train at the Texas A&M AgriLife Center will have the champion team at the Denver National Western Wool Judging Contest.

 Objective 2) We will solicit samples of fabric contaminated with non-wool fibers from mills producing worsted fabric and analyze the contaminants using the procedures described. However, previous research conducted with funding from NSIIC showed that contamination of wool fabric appeared to be introduced at the mill and not by the grower. Several request to mills for additional samples have gone unanswered, thus we may not be able to accomplish this objective. If we are successful obtaining samples we anticipate they will validate previous results. Several instruments are available to determine AFD, but lab scoured yield (LSY) is still a laborious and expensive process. We have 2 years of near infrared spectra and LSY data from grower fleeces, with promising results. A third year should be sufficient to develop robust calibrations to predict LSY for Texas.

 Objective 3) With last year’s funding the FibreLux was tested, favorably compared to the OFDA2000, and a manuscript submitted to the journal Small Ruminant Research. This year we will use the instrument to class wool on at least one grower’s property and core sample the bales to test if bale average fiber diameter differed between bales.

 Objective 4) Average fiber diameter, yield, packaging, and price data from grower lots between 2007 and 2016 at PMCI will be a analyzed to determine if there is a relationship between objective measures and price for wool.