Texas A&M AgriLife Research will hold a wool handling course on Jan. 8. The event will be at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in San Angelo at 7887 U.S. Highway 87 North.
The cost is $50, and registration is open online. The course will cover how and why to separate the wool qualities from among individual fleeces as well as entire flocks. Training will include a short classroom instruction and shearing-shed experience.
The course is open to participants of any experience. It is appropriate for beginning sheep producers, shearing crew workers, experienced wool growers and cottage wool enthusiasts.
“This one-day wool handling course is designed to provide basic guidelines to any wool-sheep operation and will enable the producer to adjust it to their own operation,” said Ronald Pope, Ph.D., AgriLife Research animal fiber research scientist, San Angelo. “The purpose is to establish best practices to optimize marketing options while minimizing labor and the cost to implement those practices.”
The course will take place during the 2020 Sheep Shearing School. Participants of the shearing school may sit in on the wool handling course as well.
Pope said this program will address the importance of management throughout the year to maintain wool quality and that the information learned can be used all year long.
“More emphasis will be focused on a stepwise approach to wool harvesting as the time nears and during the shearing process,” Pope said. “The goal is to enhance the wool quality as it exists at shearing time and prevent deterioration of quality due to improper handling and preparation.”
Topics covered will include how to minimize contamination, how to properly identify and separate wool quality differences in a fleece and effective table skirting at shearing time. Presenters will also discuss proper packaging and labeling of wool packages.
“Rather than students just following the regulations, we’ll be explaining why these regulatory steps are important so they gain a true understanding of the process,” Pope said. “This will allow them to make an informed judgement as they apply what they learn to their own or other sheep operations.”
Coordinators said an overall objective of the course is to increase awareness of wool quality and how that impacts market options and commercial wool pricing. The school is part of the Wool Quality Improvement Program from the American Sheep Industry’s American Wool Council, which is designed to enable U.S. wool growers to present a competitive product to domestic and international wool markets.
Courses like these are important because the more that is done to improve U.S. wool quality, the better reputation U.S. wool will have in the markets worldwide, Pope said.