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Wool, qualities thereof  RSS feed

 
steward
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What do we know about the quantity/quality of wool from sheep/hair from other fiber animals raised in a permaculture system? Fiber artists want to know, even if they don't know they want to know...is it more, better?
 
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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There is still genetics at play, you can't make coarse wool fine by changing the diet. But you can get softer, longer, less brittle wool--just like people's hair.

The blackberry canes stuck in their fleece are a definite downer. But they LOVE the berries (and leaves).
 
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We raised sheep on a small farm when I was young. The main product was meat, and the wool was considered a byproduct. They were pastured in the summer, then fed indoors on feed and hay from an overhead slatted manger, so the wool was dirty from that. Minimizing hay feeding and indoor time would keep the wool cleaner, especially if the animals are paddock-shifted so they are constantly being moved into fresh areas with plenty of growth and no mud.

Wool is hair, and the healthier the animal, the healthier their hair. If permaculture keeps the sheep in peak health, then the wool will be more better. Extreme conditions is malnutrition and stress can cause a "wool break" where the whole fleece sloughs off in one matted sheet. That's baaaaaad.
 
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Here in the high dry Himalayas, pashmina goat fiber is a valuable product up on the Tibetan plateau. I used to wonder why the people in the lower, farming, areas of Ladakh don't produce pashmina though they have similar goats. It turns out that the goats produce much better, longer fibers when they live up higher and colder. And nice cozy sheds ruin the fiber: the goats thrive spending nights in open pens!
 
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