At Heathfield Poll Merinos, our approach to wool growing has consistently been to produce as much of the finest wool we can.
The exact micron of wool on a sheep is very difficult to determine by sight or feel, so we have been micron testing each of our young ewes since 2002. A colour coded tag system forms the basis of how we identify each ewe with a micron group and subsequently manage the flock. But why do we do this?
Ewe hogget wool at approximately 7 months’ growth. Note the rich purple skins in these pictures (taken on the rump), indicating good blood flow.
There always have been premiums for lower micron wools over stronger types, although these premiums have waxed and waned over the years. We breed sheep that are fine and heavy cutters – especially heavy for their fine and super fine microns – to maximise returns and capture market premiums.
By fleece weighing and using a 3 year average price indicator for each micron group we calculate an estimated fleece value for each young ewe, and rank and identify them accordingly.
Ranking ewes by micron, fleece weight and estimated fleece value allows us to assess each ewe as an individual when sheep classing and matching ewes to rams. The micron identifier also helps with drafting ewes into wool lines for shearing.
Very high ranking ewes are selected for our stud program, ensuring measured genetic improvement.
We need the worst result!
Besides being the easiest place to take a wool sample from, the rump is the area on the sheep that has the least blood flow to the skin, and correspondingly produces the worst wool test result. There can be as much as 2 microns difference between a mid-side and a rump sample.
Micron testing is generally carried out on the mid-side as it is believed to be the average of what the sheep’s fleece will do, but at Heathfield Poll Merinos we are not after the average, we are after the worst result possible to be sure of continued genetic improvement.
A good result on the rump means a good result all over the sheep.
We micron test in Spring at the peak of nutrition when micron will potentially be at its strongest.
Every year each ewe is examined as an individual, and our high reproductive rates allow greater choice when classing, and provide quality ewes for surplus sales.
We have also found our sheep hold their micron and do not blow out as they age.
The long history of testing and identifying micron in our sheep in this way, we feel, has stood us in good stead to produce elite wools and exceptional sheep.
We produce fine, bright, bold crimping, long stapled, heavy cutting wools
Wool has always been a passion and we enjoy the challenge of continually improving a beautiful product through genetic selection.
Fine and super fine sheep are not renowned for being particularly heavy cutting, but our sheep produce beautiful wool, and plenty of it, as well as having the ability to raise plenty of lambs.
Our sheep are multi-purpose because they also have the fat and muscle to deliver very saleable carcasses and high fertility, culminating in a very well balanced, profitable poll Merino.
We don’t take shortcuts because the extra effort of wool testing and measuring translates into quality genetics that will enhance your flock profitably.
We have rams available for purchase, and we welcome inspection of our sheep at any time of the year. Contact us here for a yarn and please talk to Steve about free delivery options as well!