WOOL QUALITY IMPROVEMENT SUMMIT (FINAL DRAFT, November 24, 1997)
RECOMMENDATIONS OF CORE TEAM #4, GENETICS
Optimize genetic performance for wool quality and production in U.S. flocks
- 1.Achieve greater fleece uniformity (in terms of all the important traits, fiber diameter, staple length, yield, etc.) while maintaining or improving reproduction and carcass traits in the ewe and lamb, respectively.
- 2.Increase clean yield.
- 3.Establish low labor, economical, management programs that will allow the sheep to achieve their genetic potential.
- 4.Increase intrinsic fiber strength and staple strength through selection, strategic nutrition supplementation, and shearing prior to lambing.
- 5.Eliminate black and other colored fibers (in white wool breeds).
Strongly Encourage stud masters, registered and commercial breeders, breed associations, and sale organizers of white wool breeds to pay closer attention to wool quality, particularly (but not limited to) the following areas:
Average fiber diameter and coefficient of variation must be determined at the base of a staple sample shorn from the mid-side within 30 days of the show or sale.
- Uniformity of staple length.
- Excessively greasy fleeces.
- Reducing colored fiber content (as per breed standards and taking into account that pigmented noses, eyelashes, and hooves are almost certainly indicative of colored fiber production).
- Excessive belly wool.
- Presence of medullated (hair) fibers.
- Presence of coarse britches.
Breed associations are strongly encouraged to incorporate wool quality into their sheep evaluations in accordance with the following breed classifications:
- Wool breeds (merino, Rambouillet, etc.)
- Wool attributes should account for no less than 50% of the evaluation.
- Dual purpose breeds (Columbia, Corriedale, etc.)
- Wool attributes should account for no less than 35% of the evaluation.
- Meat breeds (Suffolk, Finnsheep, etc.)
- Wool attributes should account for no less than 15% of the evaluation.
Further, for show and exhibition purposes, fitting animals might remain permissible but the natural character of the fleece should not be altered. At least a half-inch of belly wool should be available for inspection. For all breeds, consideration should be given to establishing a specific range for average fiber diameter and acceptable or desirable ranges for coefficients of variation of fiber diameter.
Standard ethical practices for AI sires:
A side sample must be microned for all wool type AI sires. The sample should be taken at one year of age or older with the ram on a defined plane of nutrition. This result, together with date sample taken, age, and body condition of ram when sample was taken, should be made available to potential purchasers of semen/AI services. Average fiber diameter and standard deviation and/or coefficient of variation values on both side and britch samples would be preferable.
Encourage breeders to use NSIP but only submit objectively measured wool information (particularly mean fiber diameter) from animals 12 months of age or older. Ideally, age and a defined plane of nutrition should be recorded concurrently with wool measurements, as should type of birth and maternal lambing history.
Education (all topics to be referred to the Education Core Team).
Identify low labor management practices that will allow expression of the genetic potential of animals, particularly important in the first year of life.
Educate producers concerning the effects of age and plane of nutrition on average fiber diameter.
Educate breeders on the importance of having adequate sheep numbers in their breeding flocks to establish flock credibility.
Educate producers on how much financial return they will realize by improving specific traits in their flocks.
Educate producers on the importance of coefficient of variation of fiber diameter and the presence of fibers coarser than 30 m.
To achieve the recommended long-term goal and objectives, this Action Plan should be adopted immediately by all segments of the Sheep Seedstock Industry.
Chris Lupton, Extension-Texas; Martin Dally, Extension – California; Harry Koenig, Producer from Virginia; Randy Reutter, Producer from New York and Pam Runyan, Producers from New Mexico.