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FourCountryGals.com
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello folks,

I have a small flock of Merino/Suffolk cross sheep. I had them sheared this June, all but the flock dam and sire were sheared for the very first time.

I've had a number of ladies (from the FA forum) evaluate the fleece from the yearlings and each have reported a serious lack of lanolin.

I'm looking for clues as to this lack of lanolin.

Here is our environmental status.

1. We are in SW Utah, the Escalante Desert Valley. Our elevation is just over 5400 feet. Rainfall is less than 10 inches a year, with most of that falling as snow. Last winter was very harsh with at least 40 nights below zero, sometimes as low as -30. Average wind speed across 24 hours is just over 9 mph. Gusts to 40 are common.

2. These sheep were fed alfalfa/grass hay throughout their lives, not pastured. They had the run of a 1/2 acre paddock and were fed once daily until they came into our possesion for the last 6 weeks before shearing.

3. The sheep had virtually no shelter and were not coated, so they were exposed to the elements all the time.

Genetically, these sheep are the Merino/Suffolk cross. Unfortunately, I don't know much more.

If you have any ideas, please post them. This discussion should benefit everyone as we all work to improve our flocks. I'll be adding information I receive so it can help others.

Thanks
 

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I'm not sure what you mean by a "serious lack of lanolin" but I do know that suffolk are a breed that naturally has little lanolin. That trait of the suffolks may be coming through in the breeding?

Little lanolin isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's a lot easier and less expensive to wash wool that doesn't have as much lanolin.

Suffolk is also a down wool breed so is not as soft as some, such as merino, but it also doesn't felt, whereas merino felts VERY easily.
 

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Do you feed any kind of minerals/salt mix? They maybe lack on minerals or just be normal like mtbeb said suffolk don't have is much lanolin. I've never deal with merinos, but the hamps and hamp cross have more lanolin then the suffolk. G&S
 

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YuccaFlatsRanch said:
Are any of the "ladies" pondering becoming a "customer"?? If so that may be your answer. Ask your shearer about the lanolin content. The shearer will know for sure and should be honest about it.
As one of the "ladies", I may be taking your comment wrong but am a little offended by its implicaiton.

Yes, I would be lined up outside the farm gates for one or more of the fleece if this 'problem' could be traced and fixed. The wool is absolutely gorgeous but weakened and prone to breakage. It also appears to not only have no discernable lanolin, but no "sheepy" smell! The climate may have something to do with it - maybe they need a sheep-specific mineral diet. :shrug:

As I stated elsewhere, I'd be willing to bet that under Shari's care, the sheep (and their wool) will be markedly improved in short order. She obviously cares a great deal for the animals, the product and her (prospective) clientele. Of the three, her sheep's welfare comes first, as it should be.
 

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FalconDance said:
As one of the "ladies", I may be taking your comment wrong but am a little offended by its implicaiton.

Yes, I would be lined up outside the farm gates for one or more of the fleece if this 'problem' could be traced and fixed. The wool is absolutely gorgeous but weakened and prone to breakage. It also appears to not only have no discernable lanolin, but no "sheepy" smell! The climate may have something to do with it - maybe they need a sheep-specific mineral diet. :shrug:

As I stated elsewhere, I'd be willing to bet that under Shari's care, the sheep (and their wool) will be markedly improved in short order. She obviously cares a great deal for the animals, the product and her (prospective) clientele. Of the three, her sheep's welfare comes first, as it should be.
Ditto. I'm another one of the 'ladies'. I loved the color and crimp of that wool. I don't think my batch had as much breakage as some others, but I think I had the most problems with the dryness. I've never even had scoured wool that lanolin-free! BUT, if it had lanolin, and the weakness wasn't there, I'd sure be a customer. I think the weakness is the easiest for Shari to fix. I agree that it was probably nutritional from the prior owners. The lanolin thing, though...I don't have a clue. :shrug:

However, Shari has jumped into this feet first, and is pulling no punches. She's obviously intending on making this work...and I am quite sure that with that kind of dedication, she will!

Meg
 

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Well first off, to those that may feel a little offended, ...DON'T!

As I quote the original poster; "If you have any ideas, please post them. This discussion should benefit everyone as we all work to improve our flocks. I'll be adding information I receive so it can help others."

Beyond those few of us who know each other on here, we really don't know who we are dealing with on the BBS, The original posted didn't quote who exactly was interested in her wool, and let's face it, you and I both know there are people in the world who would complain about a little issue just to get a better price on something they wanted, I'd even bet some of those people are on this board. So, "...any ideas,...." let's face it, that's one of them.

Now, on to what I think. I think the original breeder who let's say had a nice flock of Merinos, for some reason crossed them with Suffolk, (a breed noted for meat and let's face it, pretty poor fleece for hand spinners) So I can only assume they did so to increase their lamb meat yield for size. If it's the other way around, and we're talking about a Suffolk breeder who used a Merino ram to increase the quality of wool? (I just don't see it...?)

Either way, I know Suffolks while their wool is considered less of a quality wool for hand spinning, their wool should not be brittle and have breaking points, it should still be strong. So the problem you face, [IMO] is those sheep have been stressed to some degree. I'm sure once sheared and with proper dietary concerns met, they should produce whatever quality of wool they can produce. FYI, Montadales produce an almost lanolin free wool, which is still strong. Further, if you feed too much corn it's been said that it will turn the wool a little yellow. (I've seen it happen with my sheep's wool over winter feeding)

My suggestion would be to try to locate a Merino ram and breed back the finer fleece that will gain you higher prices for your wool. This go round, you might consider felting it, and or trying the quilt batting.
 

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FourCountryGals.com
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks everyone, who's participating in this discussion.

Slev, to bring you up-to-date, I am the "shepherd" of a small flock of Merino/Suffolk cross sheep. The previous owner crossed the Suffolk into the Merino to gain meat size shortly after the wool market took a nose-dive here in Utah.

Now, exactly how long ago that was, I'm not really sure. Our flock dam is just three years old, and we have her offspring from both her first and second breedings. I'm not sure she's purebred Merino. The previous owner didn't keep the best records. The offspring are definitely Suffolk crosses as her ram was a Suffolk.

Our ram is a Merino/Suffolk cross (50/50) as his sire was pure Merino and his dam is full Suffolk.

These animals were kept in a fairly large pen running with about 15 or so other Suffolk and Polypay. They were fed grass hay, one feeding per day. They never exhibited a lack of food.

Here on the desert, we don't typically have parasitic issues. It's too dry and because the sheep are fed from feeders rather than pasture, the risk is small.

Could these animals have been stressed? Yes. We had a very harsh winter, and these animals were outside the entire time. We had two "roundups" where the animals were herded into small areas and then captured (not using any kind of chute), by tackling and holding down. The first roundup was to do the crutch clip, and the second was to move the animals to our farm (about 1/2 mile).

The sheep were sheared the first week of June at our farm. To be honest with you, I wasn't impressed with information provided by our shearer, who is "the preferred shearer" in this valley. I felt he was purposely giving us a lot of mis-information about the management of our herd.

The person who previously owned our ram now has an identical sample of the wool and will also provide an evaluation as she is a spinner, too. I had her take a look at the fleece and she noticed the lack of lanolin.

Today, I contacted Texas A&M Wool and Mohair Research and asked them to send me their price list for wool analysis.

To date, we have changed the diet to a "trimix" of alfalfa, rye, and orchard grass. We offer a mineral/salt block for sheep as well as fresh water. We feed twice a day, and most recently have begun feeding in a Premier "drive-by" feeder. This helps keep the hay off the wool.

We are working to build "baffles" in our pen so the animals get used to going around what can become movable panels. This will allow us to pen and catch our sheep without chasing them.

The sheep have some minimal shade (more than they had previously) and before winter, will have a shelter where they can get out of the wind, snow and freezing temperatures.

Also, we're considering covering the animals to keep the fleece clean. I've located a product designed specifically for Merino fleece... lighter weight nylon denier.

We are expecting lambs later this fall (end of September to first week of October). The sire is our ram, who weighs about 350# and has a very high crimp wool. I can't tell you the microns as it has not yet been tested.

FYI, none of the evaluations included any fleece from either the flock dam or the flock sire, only the offspring (triplets) from the dam's first breeding.

Hope this sheds more light on what we have.
 

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Slev said:
Beyond those few of us who know each other on here, we really don't know who we are dealing with on the BBS, The original posted didn't quote who exactly was interested in her wool, and let's face it, you and I both know there are people in the world who would complain about a little issue just to get a better price on something they wanted, I'd even bet some of those people are on this board. So, "...any ideas,...." let's face it, that's one of them..
You do have a point, although I hadn't thought of it in that light at all! Shari offered us test batches of wool, in return for our honest opinions of it, so she could plan a breeding and marketing strategy. So, instead of candy-coating everything, we were honest. We told her what we liked, and what we didn't. I was worried that I would offend her...I'm not known for my ability to be tactful. :rolleyes: But she took it just as she said she would...no offense at what we didn't like, just using the information to work toward her goal.

Shari, you may benefit by getting more opinions than the few here. There may be lots of folks out there that prefer their wool without lanolin.

Meg
 

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I don't think sheep being chased around a pen acouple of times could cause a lack of lanolin or breaks in the wool. I've seen lots of sheep being chased around that never caused a problem.

So have you owned these sheep ever since their last wool clip? If not, you've already said the former owner didn't do that well on organization, so I'm gonna go with the stress was during his ownership. (There is a reason why he chose to sell THOSE sheep) I assume he still has some sheep and didn't get out altogether?

Got to be a feed issue I'm thinking. Of course St. Louis has been dealing with 100 plus temps. this past week so when I cut my wool I'll let you know if it's heat.. yesterday, 105 degrees...!

How about a change in their feed? It could be stress from parasites back when he had them, what do you treat them with? hoe often? How often do others treat in your area?
 

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Slev said:
Well first off, to those that may feel a little offended, ...DON'T!

As I quote the original poster; "If you have any ideas, please post them. This discussion should benefit everyone as we all work to improve our flocks. I'll be adding information I receive so it can help others."

Beyond those few of us who know each other on here, we really don't know who we are dealing with on the BBS, The original posted didn't quote who exactly was interested in her wool, and let's face it, you and I both know there are people in the world who would complain about a little issue just to get a better price on something they wanted, I'd even bet some of those people are on this board. So, "...any ideas,...." let's face it, that's one of them.
As yet another of those "ladies" I can promise you that when good fleece is on the table that money is usually NOT an issue. I think, if you added up the value of all the fleece I have tucked away in my humble abode, and sold them for that value, you could probably put a dent in the national debt! LOL

But seriously, I can attest that all three of us have only the mose sincere motives at heart and want to help Shari develop the very best flock of fleece sheep in the Country. And I think that with a little work on this lanolin issue, she will, by gosh, do it!

donsgal
 

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well as I said, since no names were mentioned, there is no need for anyone involved to feel "finger pointed at" I don't think Shari feels that either, as the other poster said and/or I .....

Shari, try to find out what ype of feed he gave them, when(what time of year) and how much per how many head he had. Also how often he medicated and what kind?

......you know, just for your records.
 

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FourCountryGals.com
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Slev, the sheep were sold because the owner is moving. She has lived in this area for nearly 30 years. I believe in this same location for nearly 20 years. She is a "good animal person", in that she trains horses, has raised chickens (from incubator to egg layers), has raised goats, and sheep.

She has been raising sheep for about 10 years as well as working for one of the local large sheep operations.

She feeds exactly the same hay as the large operation as they trade her hay for boarding some of their horses. The large operation raises Polypay/Suffolk mostly for meat.

Several years ago, the Utah wool market took a serious nose dive and the co-op nearly closed. Only the largest operations still send wool to a distant buyer.

As far as medications, in this area, we inoculate with Costridium perfringes A&D for "over eating" disease. Most of us do not worm as our land is very dry (desert sand), and unless we pasture animals on irrigated land, all animals are penned and fed grass hay.

As a side note, we do worm our horse. We got him as a yearling who had been pastured and he had "bots" on his first worming. We've wormed him twice since then with no sign of any infestation.

We don't have foot rot issues because of the dryness. Pen areas are rarely wet for more than a couple of hours. The exception is winter when the pen areas are typically frozen solid (down to 20 inches or more) and covered with snow (sometimes as much as 12 inches).

I'm thinking the issue is the weather. Like I said, last winter was extremely harsh, even for this area. When it became spring, we went from below freezing temps to above 80 within days. Summer has been a long series of temps above 100 degrees. Our average temperature swing over 24 hours can easily exceed 45 to 50 degrees. I have access to last year's weather data, and will see how it correlates to average in this area.
 
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