MSU Sheep Extension Program
Montana Sheep Institute
Montana Wool Lab Activities
Grab and Core Sampling Comparison.
Grab samples, core samples and individual fleece samples
were obtained from university sheep during shearing.
Each fleece sample was identified by animal ID and Bale
ID. Grab Samples and core samples were taken for each
Bale. All wool samples were tested for AFD on the OFDA2000,
OFDA100 and Laser scan. Analysis of wool AFD, Yield
and staple length and strength testing is being done
in association with the Yocom McColl Testing Laboratory
and IWTO, Sydney Australia.
Wool Lab, Bozeman campus. Photo: MSU
Along Fiber Distribution (Standard Deviation).
The OFDA2000 has become a useful tool in determining
the variation of change in fiber diameter for the wool
growth cycle each year. Animals whose wool does not
readily change due to environment may not be the best
animals to keep in the flock. This study will look at
animals to determine if a large SD along the fiber produces
better breeding stock than animals that do not change.
Maternal traits will be compared to Along Fiber Distribution.
Coefficient of variation, density and fleece
weights. Uniformity of wool fiber diameter
is an important processing characteristic. Fine, uniform
wool typically commands the best price for quality textiles.
Preliminary results show that selection for uniformity
within a fleece will not lower fleece weight and thus
bring a higher price.
OFDA2000 and LDP standards. Classing
wool during shearing time to separate inferior wool
has become important to produce a quality clip bringing
a better overall price for the grower. With the LDP
payments for graded wool it is important to be as accurate
as possible in classing wool lines. The OFDA2000 has
been used to assist in sorting these lines by grading
each fleece that comes off the shearing floor and setting
up LDP cut-offs. Core samples are taken from each lot
of wool and compared to the OFDA2000 AFD for each line.
Preliminary results are showing that the use of the
OFDA2000 has been advantageous to separating wool according
to desired LDP standards and therefore brings about
the best possible price for the producer.
Study 1. Lamb survivability is an
important aspect for producers. A 7-minute difference
in cold tolerance can correspond to a drop in field
mortality of 9% (Stott and Slee, 1987). The amount and
activity of brown adipose tissue provides protection
against cold until the lamb can nurse. The increased
plain of nutrition that ewes are placed on may affect
the ewe’s wool quality as well as the quality
of the lamb’s wool. Ewes will be placed in 3 different
groups and fed differing diets. Dye banding will be
done on ewes before prescribed feeds are started and
will be dye banded at the end of feed trial. Wool will
be tested for AFD, yield, color and length and strength.
Yearling ewe lamb wool will be tested for AFD, yield,
color and length and strength.
Study 2. Noxious weeds are being controlled
by the use of sheep. Many noxious weeds provide very
high protein content. Sheep will be tested for wool
quality, yield, color, AFD and length and strength.
Using the OFDA2000 and Lyco Dominator Wool Baler, on-farm
and in lab work is being done to help producers improve
their wool clip. Producers are able to have their wool
tested at or before shearing to sort their wool into
similar lines. Producers have the option of delivering
their wool to the lab, whereby it is rebaled in the
appropriate nylon packs giving them an advantage at
Eastern Montana Consolidated Pool Project.
This project has been a success. Producers are catching
on to sorting of wool, increasing wool quality within
their own clip. Each lot of wool is being visually graded
for fiber diameter, length, and quality. Wool delivered
in inappropriate bags or sacks and lots less than 300
pounds are rebaled using the nylon bales. At time of
delivery bales are weighed, cored and grab sampled.
In laboratory testing is done for AFD, yield and length
and strength for each lot of wool. The 2006 year will
bring about new technology as the Montana Wool Lab has
obtained a grab sampling unit. We will now be able to
weigh bales, use an automated core and grab sampler
and sort the wool with the OFDA2000. This will contribute
in an increased uniformity of wool lines and bring a
higher rate of return to the producer.
Education and Demonstrations. The
Montana Wool Lab has been fortunate to travel with the
OFDA2000 to different venues within the state and out
of the state. Some of these included the Montana Woolgrowers
meeting in Billings, The Idaho Woolgrowers Association
and in cooperation with ASI the OFDA200 was shipped
for demonstrations in Michigan.
Micron evaluation of fiber diameter. This
process is an important tool in the wool industry. It
is used for selection in breeding, marketing and NSIP.
Yield evaluation of wool lots. Testing
for yield, along with micron results, give producers
and buyers the advantage of an even bargaining table.
It reduces the risk to both parties involved I wool
MSU Ram Test. Objective measurement
of test rams for fiber diameter. Data collection for
staple length, fleece weights and yield.
State Ram Sale in Miles City. Objective
measurement of sale rams, including histograms of fiber
Montana State University.
Sheep Production – Wool Lectures and Labs
Sheep Practicum – Introduction to Wool
Animal Science Freshmen Class – Wool Lecture
4-H and FFA workshops
Ag in the classroom