Thursday, February 20, 2020

FAQ - Why do you micron test all your sheep annually?

We get this question from people when the topic of the use of statistics and math in our breeding program enters the conversation.  It is important because fleeces will change over the years.  If we only did a test once or twice in the early years we would miss out on a lot of important information about our flock by excluding data on the more mature members of our flock.

Blue Sapphire as a lamb

Blue Sapphire as a yearling with tons of potential

Blue Sapphire as the regal matriarch at 9 years of age
The answer is, we probably don’t need to anymore. I think it’s important to test the yearlings just to see where they are. You might be able to make an argument that you should test the two year olds just to see how the second fleece changed. I think you can see that, however. 
Micron results for the entire flock are used for breeding decisions as well as accurately depicting the fiber products we offer
The main reason we do it is to make sure the products we offer are accurate. If I say a skein of yarn is superfine, it’s incumbent on me to back that up. So, we put the micron data on the label. I can’t use the yearling test for that; it has to be from the same fleece we are selling. 

Every fleece we offer inncludes the micron data from that sheep
Initially, I think it was important to calibrate my senses against what the fiber actually was. By testing annually, I can use data to make a claim as to what the fiber actually is. Moreover, I can provide useful information on variability, which is as important as the actual average fiber diameter.

Example of a yarn label with micron data for that year/ewe
We will be taking fiber samples this weekend as we are getting close to shearing day.  One more month of winter break on the farm before shearing, lambing and spring tasks kick in.

Is micron data important to our customers?  I would love to hear feedback/comments from those who actually worked with our wool if this information is important or helpful before I answer this question (hint hint).