Montana State University
Wool Education and Research


Wool contributes 12 percent of the gross income on fine wool flocks and more for those growers with reputation clips. Montana State and Texas A&M AgriLife are the only academic wool labs remaining in the U.S. Funding is required for these labs to operate effective ly. Hair contamination is affecting t he va lue of us. wool creating a need to better understand t he problem from the processors perspective and to develop methods to detect and minimize the problem prior to processing. Wool yield is second only to average fiber diameter in determining the value of wool, but there is not an economical method to evaluate and improve this wool characteristic.

1. In consultation with wool processors determine the procedures and techniques they use to quantify hair contamination. Use th is knowledge to develop procedure on greasy wool.

2. Develop robust nearinfrared calibrations for wool yield on individual animals to use to selection for genetic improvement. Develop N1R calibrations of bale cores to improve the efficiency of interlotting.

3. Make the Fibrelux Micron Meter available to wool producers for testing at their operations or wool pools.

4. Provide the necessary wool testing for growers and assist in the interpretation of results for the growers intended purpose.

There are four main efforts of this project: research projects, outreach, technical assistance, and services. Clearly defining the amount and possible the type of hair from wool processor and manufacturer information. Use NIR results to make selection decisions for improved yields in a ewe flock and work with wool marketers to effectively interlay smaller volumes. Allowing growers to have personal access to the Fibrelux for use on their operation and to have it available for wool pools will help growers and further evaluate the instrument's utility. The continuing mission of the wool lab is to provide wool testing and evaluation to sheep growers by analyzing wool fiber characteristics.

Project UpDate

Project Objectives Status

1. Plans are being made to visit Chargeuers Wool in August or September to review this processorís test procedures to identify hair contamination and/or other objectionable fiber. The effects of wool harvesting, sorting and classing on prevalence of objectionable fibers is in the final stages. Survey outcome at first stage processing locations later this summer will allow us to synthesize information in a publication and report this fall

2. Yield determination and average fiber diameter have been tested using standard lab methods and the NIR. Validation samples have been collected from 2016 wool production from approximately 9 growers which will be run this summer. Core samples from wool lots to be interlotted have been collected and will be analyzed this summer. Furthermore at the Montana Wool Lab equipment has been engineered to core sample fleeces for the purpose of analyzing fiber diameter and clean wool fibers present. One impediment to conducting research regarding clean yield has been unavailability of portable equipment that can core sample fleeces efficiently. The MT fleece corer will undergo prototype testing for use this spring in the USDA-ARS sheep experiment station fine wool project. Once fully functional this equipment will be made available for Bill Sims Wool and Mohair Lab and regional central ram tests.

3. Instrument comparison between the FibreLux and OFDA2000 indicate the FibreLux is suitable for use by sheep producers for average fiber diameter determination. Presentations have been made at state and national sheep producer meetings to inform growers of the potential use. It is anticipated that a peer-reviewed article will be submitted to the Sheep and Goat Research Journal and a popular press article to help educate growers of this instruments potential use.

4. Process to develop a Lab Inventory Management System to increase the efficiency of the Bill Sims Wool and Mohair Lab and Montana wool lab has been initiated. Grower samples, research project samples, and outreach projects are ongoing.