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Main body wool

Full fleece

Full fleece is used to describe the main body wool from sheep shorn only once a year, and generally accounts for 75-85% of the wool shorn.

Pre-lamb shorn wools, which are generally offered for sale from August-November, are sound, high yielding and of good colour, although they may carry a light vegetable fault because of winter supplementary feeding of hay. Post-lamb shorn wools, which peak in January, are lower yielding, still of good to average colour and mostly sound. Wools shorn later in the summer tend to be of poorer colour and may on occasion carry a degree of tenderness and cotting. (See Cotts below for more detail.)

Fleece wools can be further differentiated into ewe and hogget fleeces.

Ewe wool is shorn from sheep that have matured and produced lambs, and will therefore conform to the length and diameter values typical of the breed and shearing interval.

Hogget wools (from sheep aged 7-18 months) are sounder and generally finer than ewe wool. Hogget wools can be further sub divided. Woolly hoggets have not previously been shorn, so the wool will be long for its diameter. Shorn hoggets have already been shorn as lambs and consequently will not have had the same wool growing period.

Second Shear and Early Shorn

Although second shear wool is available throughout the season, it has two peaks, with spring-shorn wool available in quantity from November-January, and autumn shorn from April-June. Because it has been grown through the winter, spring-shorn wool is likely to have more faults than autumn shorn, which will be sounder and of good colour.

Second shear is about six months growth, and is available in a range of staple lengths, averaging from 50 to 100 mm. Early shorn wool, with an extra two or three months growth, averages from 90 to 125 mm, and as a result, is of good processing length.

Declining returns have reduced the profitability of second shearing. As a result they have decreased in availability. At present they account for about 33% of shorn wool production.


Crossbred lambs are usually shorn when they are three to six months old. Their body wool is often called first lambs and is normally in the 28-31 micron range, soft in handle, well-crimped and rarely exceeds 75-125 mm in length. Wool from unweaned lambs, which is usually less than 50 mm long, enters the market in early December, with the bulk of first lambs becoming available from late January-March/April.


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