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Main wool types

New Zealand wools are usually classified by fineness into three main breed groups: crossbred (strong), mid-micron (medium) and Merino (fine). There are also classifications for less common breed groups with special characteristics.

Crossbred

Most of the New Zealand clip is classified as crossbred wool, which usually falls within the 30-41 micron range. The term crossbred, when applied to New Zealand wool, describes any English long-wool breed or any of their crosses: the main breeds being Romney, Coopworth, Perendale, Border Leicester, English Leicester and Lincoln.

It can be further divided into fine (30-32 microns), medium (33-35 microns), or strong (>36 microns) crossbred. Crossbred wool is produced in good quantities nearly all year, but it reaches its peak between November and January. In most seasons, a secondary peak occurs in March/April when autumn-shorn second shear wool becomes available.

Mid-micron

When applied to New Zealand wool, the term mid-micron is a grouping which mainly describes wool from the halfbreds and Corriedales. However, other Merino cross wools with a fibre diameter of 25-31 microns are also included in this category. Mid-micron wools make up about 17% of the New Zealand wool clip.

Halfbred wools are mainly produced from August to October, but are available in reasonable quantities through to January/February.

Merino

The proportion of Merino wool in the New Zealand clip is growing and now accounts for about 6% of all shorn wool. Merinos are normally shorn once a year during spring (September/October) and their wool only available in any quantity for a limited period from September to November. Their wool ranges from 15-24 microns.

 

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