Breed best for wool?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by AndreaR, Jul 17, 2004.

  1. AndreaR

    AndreaR Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    57
    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2003
    Location:
    Alberta, Canada
    Hello, I have been researching sheep breeds for wool. I have come across the Cotswold and they seem to have good temperament as well as wool in demand. The Merino is another suggested wool breed in demand but are hard to find in Alberta...Romneys and Shetlands are available here as well. Can these breeds sell for meat as well or should they be breed with a meat ram and which breed has been best in your opinion? do any of you mix your wool with mohair or alpaca wool as well for knitting?
     
  2. Hi andrea:

    The best breed of sheep for wool depends on what you want the wool for. Merinos make a very soft, short staple ( fibre length) of wool that is good for next to the skin items, but would not last long as a rug on your floor. Romney sheep make a range of wool types, some nearly as soft as the merino and others far courser. Shetlands make a two layered coat with a course fibred outer layer and a soft fibred undercoat.
    So the long and the short of the question is what do you want the wool for? If you are going to fashion floor rugs you want a longer courser wool like lincoln and to have the yarn made with a high amount of twist in it. If you are looking for soft warm sweaters you want a soft shorter stapled wool like merino, corriedale, rambouilet or such and less twist for a loftier yarn.
    I handspin my wool and mix it using a drumcarder/roving carder with a number of different fibres. I raise romney and polworth sheep and have access to numerous other wool types. I have mixed different wools with nylon for sock yarn, with sparkling qlitter fibres for evening wear, with angora rabbit for a softer fluffier appearance, with alpaca for the softness and the warmth, silk to added a touch of shine and some of the newer fibres our like soysilk and ingeo ( a corn fibre) for interest.
    Hope this helps a bit.
    Cheryl
    http://www.crfibre.biz
     

  3. I would be interested in the merino wool for selling to the mill, and some of the lambs for meat. I also found another breed, the Soays, would make a good meat and nice brown wool breed. The Cotswold and Romney or Rambouilet I would like for sweater yarn, plus some alpaca in for softness and style. I guess it depends on what is selling around here and give it a try.
     
  4. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

    Messages:
    8,280
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    Location:
    Now in Virginia
    Hands down,,, Gotland Fleece.

    There is a person,, will have to dig up her name.. did what I have been wanting to do for years and has brought some semen over.

    I love spinning the fleece, it has a very soft handle to it, but unlike most breeds with soft fleece,, it is resilient and hard wearing.

    Another very rare sheep is the Brecknock Hill,, am fairly sure there are a few sheep in canada. Their wool is more course but blends well with other fleece, spins up easily, is hardwaring,, is just a all around good fleece.
     
  5. ShortSheep

    ShortSheep Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    360
    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2004
    Location:
    Illinois
    I've got shetlands. There is a great variability in their fleeces, which I love. Some are single coated, some are double coated, some coarser and some fine. Every natural color you can imagine; white, black, different shades of grey and brown. Spotted and striped. Fleeces range from 3" to over a foot long. So I've got a fleece for every project. :)
    They are somewhat small and slow growing for the meat market, but people do eat them and the meat is mild and flavorful. (And fits on the grill nicely, lol.) They cross well for the ethnic market.
    I've read that the merino doesn't do very well in damp climates, which may be why you are having difficulty finding them. (I don't know if this is true or not, and I have no personal experience with them but think they are lovely and I like their fleece.) I've also heard that a shetland X southdown cross makes a superb meat and fiber animal. I'm probably going to put my babydoll southdown ram over a few shetland ewes this fall to see what I get, depending on how many ewes I hold back this year.
     
  6. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

    Messages:
    8,280
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    Location:
    Now in Virginia
     
  7. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

    Messages:
    3,736
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Location:
    VT
    The shetland is a modest sized sheep, the Icelandic is a bigger version, if you're looking for both fleece and and a meat breed. The Icelandic has the same "double coat" characteristic of the Shetland, a tog (the longer outter fibers) and the thel, the inner down. The lamb fleeces are particularly wonderful for hand spinning, and make a lovely knitting yarn.

    But what I'd do is buy some yarn or fleeces from breeders and see what I like. You'll find a wide variation in quality in the fiber you get from different farms depending on how they handle and spin their wool. For example, one Icelandic sheep farm uses a commercial spinnery, and the wool is quite rough. Another uses a micro spinnery and a single twist, and the wool is soft and lofty. So try several places before you come to a conclusion about what you'll get in an end product because how you handle your wool will have a lot to do with the end result.

    Either way.. welcome to sheep farming!