Wool Research and Education

Two years ago, the only commercial wool test lab ceased operation in the US. The Bill Sims Wool and Mohair Lab (BSWML) located at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in San Angelo was charged with development of a test facility for the commercial wool industry. Complete renovation is under way that will allow test to be conducted faster and reports issued to clients. The US wool industry is supportive of the test lab as are ASI, Sheep Venture Company, and the American Wool Council. The opportunity is to have all US commercial marketing and broker companies to have test done in the new lab scheduled to open January 2022. While the industry is supportive it will require some incentive to shift back from New Zealand. With NSIP leading the way in genetic improvement using Estimated Breeding Values (EBV) the new lab is poised to provide much needed data collection regarding wool quality and quantity. The lab is incorporating new testing processes to meet these needs.

Project Objectives

1.Regain the US commercial wool testing for commerce from New Zealand Wool Testing Authority (NZWTA)

2. Test wool for quality and quantity to be used in development of EBV's 

3. Expand use of Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR) for  yield estimation 4. Continue evaluation of a simple and inexpensive technology to evaluate raw wool color (Whiteness) in individual sheep for potential selection purposes. 5. Carry out normal wool lab activities in outreach, education, and research.

Description of efforts-Anticipated results

To motivate and encourage use from US commercial warehouses and brokers to shift from NZWTA to the Bill Sims Wool and Mohair lab by providing a cost share program. The NZWTA has provided a level of service not achieved by the past wool testing facility. The BSWML is implementing systems and strategies to provide the same level of performance. However, there will always be some glitches in the first stages of startup. The BSWML is preparing to have 1-2 day turn around for commercial testing, enhanced electronic test results to clients, easier client interaction on stages of testing and payment. Financial investments are being made to fulfill these objectives internally. The NSIP has made progress in genetic improvement for a variety of economic important traits. With a more responsive test lab measuring wool traits the advancement in EBV's is possible. NSIP strategies allow identification of females that are superior, not just ram selection. Obviously, the number of potential females is much greater than males. Test cost are being reduced, but more NSIP producers need to participate with inclusion of more animals. A cost share for NSIP growers only can stimulate more participation regarding economically important wool traits to include Average Fiber Diameter (AFD), clean wool production (Yield), and color. Having presentation for growers explaining the use and benefits of trait selection via EBV's will encourage more participation and advancement for the US sheep and wool industry.