Adapting to the requirements of a global and domestic market is increasingly challenging to 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 processors and companies and growers. Expanding avenues of domestic use are within the knitting division of the wool industry and include active and outdoor wear garments and socks. In certain regions of the US, there is 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 wool 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 and (2) To develop, evaluate and implement systems to measure non-wool contaminants such as hair in fleeces, flocks and clips of wool and to develop threshold
criteria that incorporate objective measurement of hair in wool. Wool education has been identified as a major need within the sheep industry because of the decreased number of states within 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 outreach efforts in order to meet the national needs of sheep and wool producers.
Report (Wool Education and Research – Montana State University and Texas A&M University)
Below I have outlined the accomplishments and tasks associated with each objective.
The goal of this research and education grant 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.
Objective 1. To provide educational outreach programs for producers, stakeholders and end users of American wool. Sheep and wool education has been identified as a major need within the sheep industry because of the decreased number of states within the US with a university sheep and wool program. The Sheep CoP within eXtension is active and populated with information and aids in transferring knowledge regarding sheep production and products to producers, stakeholders, and consumers in these underserved areas. In addition, there is a renewed interest in utilizing more domestic wools to produce American-made wool products. Companies such as Rambler’s Way, Ibex, and Crescent Sock Company are particularly interested in source verifying wool back to the American farmer and rancher. The inclusion of the super-wash facility at Chargeurs has made these types of markets possible. Many of these companies are currently utilizing imported wool and are reluctant to switch because of concerns regarding the availability of the type of wool needed in the quantities needed. Also, our marketing structure does not always support this type of marketing effort. The type of wool needed is available. However, they are not often separated at the grower level. 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 processors and companies and growers. This proposal would provide educational outreach to all segments of the wool industry. 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 outreach efforts in order to meet the national needs of sheep and wool producers, stakeholders and end users of American wool.
Scientists associated with the “Wool Laboratories” at Montana and Texas have made numerous presentations at state, regional and national meetings associated with wool quality, wool preparation, selection for wool traits and the potential out of state use of these laboratories. Presentations have been made in North Dakota, Idaho, South Dakota and Montana. The number of out of state wool samples received and questions each lab has fielded has increased substantially. Both labs are actively involved in central rams tests (Texas, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming) and training collegiate wool judging teams ( TAMU, Texas Tech, Angelo State, Kansas State, NMSU, MSU, NDSU, SDSU, and CSU). In addition, numerous discussions have been initiated with manufactures and or growers in the potential for use of US wool in a branded US product. In addition, eXtension’s Sheep CoP is proving to be an effective tool to address problems/concerns from growers across the country. To date: there are 7 leaders and 64 members of the Sheep CoP. There is about 1 new member every month. Also, in the “Ask an Expert” section there are 17 expert members to answer questions. To date, there have been 73 questions answered.
Dr. Lisa Surber presenting Larry Prager and Dr. Lisa Surber
Dr. Lisa Surber teaching wool classing Dr. Lisa Surber operated the OFDA2000
Objective 2. To develop, evaluate and implement systems to measure non-wool contaminants such as hair in fleeces, flocks and clips of wool and to develop threshold criteria that incorporate objective measurement of hair in wool. At Texas A&M Agrilife Research at San Angelo, there are flocks of both finewool and hair sheep. The aim of initial trials will be to develop a method to quantify hair contamination by taking hair from Dorper and combining it with finewool fleeces. Once a suitable method is developed, it will be used on samples from bales of wool from ewes that have been running with Dorper ewes. The development of a method for quantifying hair contamination will enable the development of best management practices in situations where the potential for hair contamination exists. Practices that may lead to hair contamination of wool include running hair sheep and finewool ewes together in the same pasture, using hair sheep rams on finewool ewes for only the breeding season, and many other variations. We will try to determine the risk of contamination associated with different management practices and develop guide lines to minimize contamination for producers that choose to mix hair breeds with finewool breeds of sheep.
Research summary from TAMU:
Objectives: To answer the questions:
1) Can we measure amount of hair fiber in samples from fleeces?
2) Does raising a lamb, or lambs, sired by a Dorper ram cause an increase in amount of hair fibers in the fleece of finewool ewes when the ewes are shorn in late May, which is approximately 2 months after lambing?
In late January 10 fleeces were collected at shearing from ewes bred to hair rams. Twenty ewes were sorted in January and not shorn. Lambing started March 5, 2014. Lambs were weaned from the ewes on June 23. With the bulk of lambs born in mid-March the ewes that were unshorn spent approximately 60 plus days with hair cross lambs prior to being shorn in early June. Having shorn the ewes prior to weaning, all fleeces have the potential to be hair contaminated by the lamb. In January of 2015, this flock of ewes was shorn again. Fleeces were collected from 10 ewes that raised crossbred lambs to measure for hair cross contamination from the lambs that she nursed in the spring of 2014.
All fleece samples have been collected and will be ready for analysis on the OFDA 100 and NIR.
1. Measuring hair fibers in wool fleeces
Wool samples with visual hair contamination were measured on the OFDA100 medullation program.
MEAN MED FD
HAIR FIBER CONTAMINATION OBVIOUS IN FLEECE
HAIR FIBER CONTAMINATION OBVIOUS IN FLEECE
After the reviewing the data generated from these samples the thought was to look at detection of hair on the NIR through seeded samples with hair. Results from the exercise were inconclusive since only a limited number of samples were run. The next step is to send larger wool samples to Australia Wool Testing Authority (AWTA) to testing using the benzene treatment test for Dark and Medullated Fiber. To date no reliable sampling or testing procedure has been identified to detect hair contamination in greasy wool.
2. Cross contamination of hair in finewool sheep wool comingled with hair sheep
Fleeces from wool sheep comingled with hair cross lambs have been collected. This includes sheep sheared pre-lambing, post lambing, and the following spring season. The inability to identify an acceptable test method or existing instrument to quantify hair in wool caused this part of the project has been put on temporary hold. Visual inspection of all treatment fleeces will commence now since all treatments have been collected.
The scope of this project has expanded in some aspects and been cut short in other areas as information and results are determined. The OFDA100 may not be the instrument suitable for hair detection. The NIR will have to be further evaluated for effectiveness. Probably the most constraining part is in sampling and sample size in greasy wool. The detection of hair in wool may have to proceed to semi-processed form, such as wool top. This funding has allowed necessary research to be conducted that has increased knowledge on hair detection and posed many more questions and challenges that need answers. Work will continue beyond this funding regarding these now know challenges.
Rambouillet Sheep Black head Dorper
Cross contamination of hair in wool Sample types and cell presentations for NIR
It is a privilege to work with NSIIC and TAMU on this project as we continue to promote and assist the US sheep industry. If you would like additional information or a more detailed report, please let me know.
Lisa Surber, PhD
Montana Wool Laboratory Manager