Wool Classing and Handling School News
April 14, 2017

The focus of ASI wool Classing and Handling schools is to educate the wool industry and improve wool preparation of American wool. The 4-day Classing Schools, are geared for higher valued wools, and help to provide the U.S. sheep industry with trained wool classers who can assist in improving the quality of the domestic wool clip by producer classing their own clip, or those interested in classing other clips. The two-day handling school is an in-depth wool and wool preparation education program which can be applied for all types of wools. Properly prepared wool is imperative for American wool to be competitive in the domestic and international markets.

The Washington Wool Classing School was held in Ellensburg, Wash. at the Barnhart Ranch March 7-9th, 2017. There were six participants, with challenging weather conditions limiting additional attendees. Participants were sheep producers that were interested in wool education and improving their own wool clip. Ken and Susan Barnhart's sheep flock provided an excellent diversity of wool microns, range (18-32). The wool classing course covered: wool fiber growth, development and production, objective measurement of wool, genetic selection programs, wool contamination and handling practices, hands-on wool grading, wool classing, packaging, labeling and marketing, and test for Level 1 Certification. Thank you to Ken and Susan Barnhart for opening their home and facilities for the classing school and the Kittitas Sheep Producers for their assistance with organizing and assisting with the school.

Plans are well underway for the California Wool Classing School to be held May 10 - 12, 2017 at the University of California Hopland Research and Extension Center. In cooperation with University of California Cooperative Extension Mendocino County, students will learn the basics of wool science, factors determining wool value, basics of wool handling and wool quality improvement programs. To fine tune the skill of wool classing, students will work with a very experienced wool classer who works in most of the western states during shearing season and handles a wide variety of wool. The class has already reached its enrollment limit at 15.

A Wool Education Seminar during the Commercial Sheep Production Workshop is planned during the Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival June 17 and 18, 2017 in Ames, Iowa. This large gathering of sheep and wool enthusiasts hosts a variety of events sponsored by the Iowa Sheep Industry Association. Events include a fleece and photo show, fiber classes and a large vendor show. School details are still being developed.

Plans are beginning for a Wool Handling School in Vermont in early summer 2017, date and location yet to be determined. Wool Handling Schools focus on an overview of wool science, responsibility in wool production, wool contamination sources, wool value determining characteristics, wool processing and hands-on experience in wool handling and preparation.

Please contact Lisa Surber at Lisa@sheepusa.org if you are interested in hosting or going to a Wool Classing or Handling School or have any questions.