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Home > Quality> Grower Benefits > Code of Practice Part 1

New Zealand Wool Industry
Code of Practice for Clip Preparation

Version 2 July 1999

PDF version available for download (260kb)


The New Zealand Wool Industry Code of Practice for Clip Preparation is intended to bring consensus to wool preparation activity and advice, providing consistent, clear messages for sheep farmers, contractors and shed staff. It clearly states the responsibilities of each group preparing the farm clip.

If the recommendations are followed, the New Zealand clip will be consistently handled to a standard that both meets the needs of the textile processor and maximises the wool return to the grower. Everyone involved in presenting and marketing the clip will benefit.

The Code of Practice was compiled with the assistance of the following organisations, and has their endorsement:

  • Classer Registration Advisory Industry Group
  • New Zealand Woolbrokers’ Association
  • New Zealand Council of Wool Exporters Inc
  • Federation of New Zealand Wool Merchants Inc
  • NZ Shearing Contractors Association Inc
  • Merino New Zealand

The Code of Practice is divided into two sections:

Part One – Responsibilities:
Sets out what each party can expect of the other parties involved and what others can expect of them. The responsibility for activities is an integral part of a profitable wool handling operation.
Grower’s responsibilities
Contractor’s or employer’s responsibilities
Leading wool handler’s responsibilities
Q Stencil holder’s responsibilities
Classer’s responsibilities
Presser’s responsibilities

Part Two – Preparation:
Sets out minimum preparation standards that need to be followed to ensure that clips meet the requirements of the customer. Unnecessary subdivision must be avoided because this will not enhance the clip and will increase costs.


  • To maximise the net return to the wool grower
  • To provide minimum standards for quality control from the wool grower to the manufacturer

To achieve these objectives, it is essential that everyone involved in the preparation of a clip knows what is expected of them and what can be expected of others.

Part One: Responsibilities

Grower’s Responsibilities

To make clear arrangements with the shearing contractor or open shed shearers in respect to:

  • Wool handling requirements and number of wool handlers
  • Full details of the classes and number of sheep to be shorn

To ensure that the shed is prepared for shearing. This means providing:

  • A working area that is of sufficient size, clean and tidy
  • Good constant light over working areas
  • Adequate bins, fadge holders, containers for dags, urine stain, black wool and rubbish
  • A suitable maintained press that meets OSH requirements
  • Sufficient approved packs, clips, branding inks and stencils
  • Recording book

To present the sheep in good order for shearing. The sheep must be:

  • Dry: damp or wet wool should not be shorn
  • Dagged: sheep should be dagged at least seven days prior to shearing
  • Empty: sheep should be yarded at least eight hours prior to shearing; longer may be required, depending on feed conditions. Off water.
  • Drafted: sheep should be drafted, to separate:
    • breeds
    • ages i.e. lambs, hoggets and mature sheep
    • wool lengths ie sheep previously shorn at different times
    • sheep brought onto the property since the previous shearing
    • any other significant differences

To meet the leading wool handler or classer to discuss the wool handling requirements.

To provide the classer or leading wool handler with full information at the commencement of shearing, including:

  • Age and sex of each mob
  • Size of each mob
  • Variations between mobs, if any
  • If available, a copy of the previous season’s specifications and test certificates

To ensure that wool baled complies with Export Packaging Standards in respect to:

  • New packs or approved recycled packs
  • Clipping and labelling
  • Approved branding inks and recommended stencils
  • Bale weights not exceeding 200 kg

The Contractor’s or Employer’s Responsibilities

To arrange and provide:

  • The agreed number of certified shearers
  • The agreed number of wool handlers, including at least one leading wool handler capable of taking responsibility and of assuming a training role
  • A presser (or pressers) capable of pressing to the required standards of the NZ Code of Practice for Wool Packaging and who will record bale details in the pressing book and pen up as required

To ensure:

  • That key wool handling personnel do not change during the shearing and that a consistent standard of staff is maintained
  • Continued liaison with the grower

The Specifications

If this role is not taken over by the grower, the classer will be responsible for preparing the specification form to cover each consignment of bales leaving the shed, ensuring that all the required information is neatly and accurately recorded.

Leading Wool Handler’s Responsibilities

The leading wool handler is subject to the direction of the grower or classer but may be asked by the grower to advise on the preparation required. Arrangements for control will vary from shed to shed, but the basic objectives of the leading wool handler should be:

  • To ensure that the shed equipment is arranged to give the best possible work flow
  • To see that the agreed wool handling procedures are followed consistently by the wool handling team
  • To ensure that the wool is graded consistently to a standard appropriate for the particular clip
  • To guide the presser and ensure that the bale number and its contents are entered correctly in the bale book
  • To ensure the branding of bales is done accurately and clearly.

Q Stencil Holder’s Responsibilities

Q Stencil holders are registered with the Classer Registration Advisory Industry Group of Meat & Wool Innovation and their work is monitored in the same way as that of registered classers.

Q Stencil holders have responsibilities to over-see the preparation of the clip when a classer is not considered necessary. Their basic objectives should be:


  • To consult with the grower before shearing and be familiar with the grower’s clip preparation requirements
  • To use a check list on all clips under their control
  • To be familiar with and adhere to the standards set out in this Code of Practice

Classer’s Responsibilities

A classer has academic and practical qualifications in wool and is registered with the Classer Registration Advisory Industry Group.

A classer has the responsibility for the management of the shed, ensuring the efficient handling of the clip to maximise its value, especially in the classing of fine wools for fibre diameter, length and colour.

The classer’s role is to have overall responsibility for all aspects of the preparation of the clip. The classer should endeavour to keep up to date with market requirements and be ready to prepare a clip accordingly.

Before Commencement

The classer should discuss the clip with the grower and consider all relevant details:

  • Last year’s lines and measurement details
  • Last shearing date
  • The current market – any premiums or discounts
  • Number of sheep and mob composition
  • Possible differences between mobs

During Shearing

The classer should set up and class to the minimum number of lines required to adequately present the clip for sale. The classer should supervise and monitor all aspects of wool handling, pressing and recording of bales, ensuring that:

  • The shed equipment is arranged to give the best possible work flow
  • The agreed wool handling procedures are followed consistently by the wool handling team
  • The wool is classed consistently to standards appropriate for the particular clip, taking into account variations of mob and environmental effects
  • The presser records the bale number and its contents correctly in the bale book and the branding of bales is done accurately and clearly
  • Specifications are prepared to present to the grower


The classer or senior wool handler has responsibility for the overall presentation of the clip. This includes the pressing, branding, numbering and recording bale descriptions.

Classing and grading can create a stop/go element to the pressing operation. Classers and senior wool handlers need to be aware of the presser’s workload to avoid any unnecessary hold ups. Mob changes and cut outs are particularly important, and require careful planning and consultation with the presser.

Presser’s Responsibilities

  • Avoid all sources of contamination by maintaining a tidy work area around the press
  • To quickly master the safe and efficient operation of whatever type of wool press he/she encounters
  • To have the stamina to press to optimum weights ie 180 kg
  • To organise the pressing of fleece and oddments to avoid unnecessary mixed bin bales
  • To be aware of the need for careful individual fleece packing for bin and reclass fleece lines, and for paper divisions between layers in bin bales
  • Fill catching pens to maintain a constant flow of sheep to shearers
  • To understand the requirements of this Code of Practice in respect to wool packaging

Pressers need to know the standard industry bale descriptions for common wool types. The industry agreed minimum (100 kg net) and maximum (200 kg net) bale weights. How to cap off bales correctly and maintain accurate records of bale numbers and descriptions for pressed bales in tally book.

(For further information, refer to the Wool Presser Handbook).

Part Two: Preparation


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