General tips on processing fiber
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Shearing and Shearing Day Preparation
Your fiber can prove to be a wonderful added value for your farm, but processing is key. Shearing time will prove what kind of profit you can make with your wool and fiber. Here are some Shearing Day Preparation Tips that will help your shearing experience.
1. Keep Your Animals Dry
For the safety of your animals and the prolonged life of the shearing equipment, animals need to be dry when sheared.
Best to put them under roof 12 hours at least before shearing to ensure they aren't rained on and protect the fleeces from the morning dew.
2. Do not feed
To ensure that their rumen is empty, withhold food from the animals for 8-12 hours and take grazing sheep off pasture for 12-24 hours before shearing. A full rumen can push up into the diaphragm of the animal and lead to breathing and stress issues while the shearer is working.
3. Have your animals gathered
Many shearers will charge extra if they have to round up your animals for you. Have them gathered before the shearer arrives.
4. Have a clean area
It's best to have a clear area to stage your shearing so that your fiber is kept free of any additional dirt or vegetable matter while the animal is being sheared. A rubber mat, rug or piece of plywood is helpful for the shearer to use. Some shearers will bring their own, some will provide it- be sure to check with your shearer on what they need you to provide.
Shearing will make everyone thirsty, sheep, shepherd and shearer. Be sure to have water on hand for everyone involved.
6. First Aid
Make sure your first aid kit is stocked up
5. Record Keeping
This an excellent time to keep records of your animals' health. Shearing Day may not be the best day to do all of your health work, vaccines, hooves and such- just because of the stress load it adds to the animal. But FAMACHA checks can be done and notes taken on each animal's body score and overall well being.
Processing Your Fiber
Now that the shearing day is behind you, what do you want to do with all those bags of fiber? You have options! If you are wanting to sell in bulk in the commodity market, Wool Pools are your best option. If you are wanting to have your fiber processed for resale, you can utilize a wool mill. If you are more hands on and want to process the wool yourself, you can do that as well. Like most things, the more work you do yourself, the more profit you keep. It all depends on how much of the time and effort you can afford to give.
For an extensive list and interactive map of wool mills along with their processing capabilities and their weight requirements visit: The National Mill Inventory.