handling angora fleeceHandling fleeces

If you do a good job on the basic fleece handling on the farm, then it makes the job easier for the classer, and this will be reflected in a higher return. Here are some suggestions:

Before shearing

Sort goats into sexes and age groups. For example:

  • Any shorn at different times with different fleece lengths.
  • Kids (separate sexes not needed).
  • Yearlings (will be mainly does but keep wethers separate).
  • Mixed age (wethers to be kept separate).
  • Bucks (of all ages).

On the shearing board

  • Sweep the belly away as soon as it is shorn and keep it separate.
  • Pick up the fleece and lay it out for sorting.

On the table

  • The main body fibre is your main money earner, so don’t let anything contaminate this.
  •  G4 and G3 goats need only to have the stained pieces and vegetable contamination removed.
  • G2 and G1 need to have the shorter off-types (that differ greatly from the main body fleece) skirted along with any kemp on the britch or back line. Stained and very kempy pieces should be kept quite separate.

Packing the fleeces

  • Put each fleece in the fadge, arranging about six fleeces in each layer (ten if they are small), with a sheet or two of newspaper between each layer.
  • Close up the fadge correctly and put your name and customer number on it. Add a brief description of what’s in the bale.

Documentation

  • It’s very important to all concerned that you do this correctly.
  • Close the fadge securely.
  • Mark on the outside with a waterproof marker pen your name, address, phone number and customer number if you have one.
  • Mark on the fadge a description of what’s inside.
  • Keep a detailed record of what you sent to the pool.
  • Let the pool know how and when you are delivering the fleeces.

Fibre testing

  • Fibre testing is done at a specialist laboratory. A mid side sample of fleece is needed for this and the correct point for sampling is one full hand span from the middle of the back of the goat over the last rib.
  • A sample of 20-30g of fibre is needed for this.
  • The lab will wash the sample, and after drying an allowable “moisture regain“ of 16% is added. This weight is then expressed as a percentage of the original weight to show the “yield” of clean fibre.
  • The most important characteristic in an Angora fleece is fibre diameter (FD) so it’s important to know the mean and the variation around the mean.
  •  For example if 400 individual fibres were measured and the mean was 27 microns, there could be a range between 10 and 60 microns and this is expressed as the Standard Deviation (SD).
  •  In making comparisons between animals, it’s useful to use the Coefficient of Variation (CoV) which is the Standard Deviation expressed as a percentage of the mean.
  • If the CoV is small, then you know that the variation in the sample, and hence the goat’s fleece is low. If it’s high the CoV shows that there is a lot of variation in the animal’s fleece. A CoV of 25% is regarded as normal and satisfactory.
  • The other useful test to have done is medullation to see how many coarse fibres, especially kemps, there are in the fleece.
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