stephen lowe wrote:
Kris, I was given to understand that these sheep didn't need to be sheered but could be rooed or basically plucked as they naturally shed. Is this not the case?
Travis Johnson wrote:In a perfect world it would all be so seamless: milk, meat and wool, but it is not that simple. Sheep breeds that are excellent for meat have really poor milk production, and I am talking like half of what the dairy breeds are. Sadly the dairy breeds make poor meat sheep because they really grow slow and are smallish in size, and make rather poor wool. And of course great wool means less protein since it makes the wool brittle, which is not the ideal way to raise sheep for slaughter.
Milk sheep breeds produce perfectly usable good wool, just not the same wool as a merino. Meat sheep breeds produce perfectly usable good wool, just not the same as a merino. Merino is a breed that is currently only great at super fine wool and nothing else. AND. Merino wool isn't thee only wool or thee most perfect wool. Actually I really hate merino wool for many reasons. The main thing is that all sheep breeds are good at different things and all wools are good at different things.
As with the OP, herein lies the issue of educating people. Merino isn't the god of all wool. Just like angus isn't the god of all beef. And since I live in a rural area and right now every black cow, calf, heifer, steer, or bull that passes through the local auction is trying to be passed off as black angus.. and almost none of them have any worthwhile meat type.. and they all are black so the price will double or more what any other cow sells for just for that. It is really hard to educate people.
As to protein for meat vs wool what you state is not correct at all for wool. Sheep all need the same thing to thrive and do their best at whatever it is they are doing, be that making milk, meat, wool, or all three. If a sheep isn't getting enough of something their health will decline and they will not produce well no matter what the purpose of production. Be it protein or minerals or any number of things. That said, some breeds are much better at doing better on lesser feed. This is only after many generations of breeding and mostly found in the heritage breeds which are now used more for wool or small farm stock than for large production like in the breeds hay-days. That doesn't mean they can't be great producers.
raven ranson wrote: But this method involves culling and the thought experiment is how to raise sheep for wool without them going for meat.
In short my answer to this is, there isn't any reason **other than human delicacy or anthropomorphizing** to not eat/sell at least a portion of a flock, or really any livestock.
In detail here is my reasoning:
1) you cannot make the population better without removing the unwanted. If I want all superfine wool merinos I cannot leave the higher micron testing sheep with the flock. They will reproduce along with the flock and bring down the micron of the flock as a whole by having more and by letting them breed with the finer animals. From what I read and have seen so far in person when breeding sheep the wool will always be of a micron on the coarser side of the parentage. If I breed a fine wool to a medium wool I will have lambs that are finer than the medium wool parent but definitely not as fine as the fine wool parent. I have to remove the coarser wools to get a finer wool flock.
2) there is always undesirables to weed out. No matter what the cause for an animal being undesirable. This could be animals that produce poorly, that have fault in type, that are not as hardy, that have serious genetic conditions,...
3) you have to have at least minimal reproducing to keep up your stock numbers for wool production. Even if this is kept in very careful balance there will always be that year you have 13 ram lambs and 4 ewe lambs or vice versa. Even if you keep a predominately wool wether flock with just enough ewes to keep up numbers, you have to realize animals will all age and their production changes with age, and what you will do with the sheep when they become old gummers and can no longer eat. Very very very few people are willing to keep every animal until it may be 15 or 18 years old and dies of old age. On top of the fact that by that time the animal is becoming a cost in money and time and either not producing or producing wool that is of much lesser value or even use.
raven ranson wrote: Increasing the value of the wool. Adding value to the wool.
Increasing and adding to the value of wool depends entirely on the consumer you are marketing to and what you are marketing. This also plays ALOT on the education of the consumer.
Are you marketing raw fleeces? Are you gearing toward handspinners who want cleaner fleeces to hand process? Are you marketing to handspinners who want to buy multiple fleeces to be milled into roving? That in itself is two very different marketing goals, and I say that as a buyer and a seller. Are you willing to pay more for a better shearer/shearers? Are you willing to pay more to have someone with knowledge skirt and/or pick your fleeces? Are you willing to buy and put in all the extra work to coat at least some of the best fleece sheep? All of the last three would increase the value of fleeces to a handspinner looking at a raw fleece.
Are you marketing milled rovings or yarns? Are you skirting and washing the fleeces or paying the mill to do that? Or are you paying to work for you to do that? Are you dyeing the rovings or yarns? Are you marketing the yarns to indie dyers as one of their yarn bases? Do you even know that indie dyers are a thing to be marketed to?
How much time and money are you willing to invest in making and marketing value? And are you adding in this to your costs to pay yourself or to pay someone to do it for you?
Travis Johnson wrote: Another underutilized resource I think is lanolin.
Not without boiling the wool. Making the wool unusable other than compost. The best I can stretch the idea is that you would have to process the wool into cloth wholly in the raw (shearing to fabric off the loom without having washed or wet the wool) and then using the fabric to carefully make a boiled wool felt to be made into coats. This of course would not happen at scale period because large scale wool processing has to have clean wool. This would have to be done strictly on cottage scale and would have quite a hefty price tag on the resulting fabric and/or coat.