U.S. Certified Wool Clip Program Presented to the Board
March 31, 2005
By Bob Padula
March/April 2005 -- Sheep producers and sheep shearers are being encouraged to participate in the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) U.S. Certified Wool Clip Program by voluntarily declaring that they are adhering to good sheep shearing and wool preparation practices.
Bob Padula, ASI wool quality consultant, presented information to the ASI Board of Directors on the program. Sheep producers and shearers will self-certify that they are adopting the recommendations to help produce a higher quality U.S. wool clip.
A direct recommendation from sheep shearers, a certified program was designed for shearers to let growers and the industry know that they are willing to help do their part. Shearers signing the "Certified Sheep Shearing Declaration" will agree to do their part to reduce contamination of polypropylene (twine and tarps), notify growers of colored fibers or black spots and allow the shearing area to be cleaned before shearing the next sheep. Shearers also agree to shear in a manner that will allow for better wool preparation and the proper packaging of wool for marketing. Shearers are encouraged to sign the declaration form and send it back to ASI. ASI will list and highlight those shearers who are willing to help improve wool quality in the United States.
Growers have two options for participation in the Certified Wool Clip Program: Choice or Premium Wool Clips. Both programs follow the Code of Practice for Preparation of Wool Clips in the United States. The Code of Practice offers a set of standards for a self-regulatory approach to wool clip preparation for either a ranch or farm-flock sheep operation.
The Choice Wool Clip Program is designed for all growers to help improve wool quality. This option includes making efforts to minimize wool contamination, sorting sheep prior to shearing by wool type, packaging the wool separately and preparing wool in the "bellies out" manner, including packaging fleece wool, belly wool and tags separately. In addition, growers are required to use new wool-packaging material, package and label wool properly, maintain a written record of wool produced and notify their marketing agency of the steps they have taken to produce a Choice wool clip. By using a certified sheep shearer, many of the steps for the Choice wool-clip designation will be covered by both the producer and shearer.
The Premium Wool Clip Program is directed at larger flocks of wool and dual purpose breeds of sheep where table skirting and classing will improve the marketability of the clip and the volume of wool is sufficient to allow for classing by a certified wool classer. In addition to the Choice wool-clip requirements, growers wanting to produce a Premium clip must ensure the wool is from sheep that have been sheared pre-lambing or crutched within 90 days to reduce the amount of stained wool and colored fibers as well as fully table skirt and class the wool. The wool must also be baled in new and approved wool-packaging material, fleece lines will be core tested and tested for staple length and strength and assigned an AWEX-ID (Australian Wool Exchange Industry Description) at marketing.
Wool warehouses, wool pools, state sheep extension specialists and state sheep associations have been sent a supply of forms and materials for participation in the Certified Wool Programs. Growers may also request the forms from ASI or download copies from the ASI Web site, at www.sheepusa.org.