Case Study – Wool Testing and raising the value of wool.

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Wool testing has long been used by speciality and rare breed wool producers to improve the quality of the wool, but what can wool testing offer sheep farmers in Wales? Gillian Williams who Farms with Her Husband, John, in Tywyn, North Wales has been taking advantage of the free wool testing offered by the made with wool project to experiment with cross breeding in order to add value to the wool they produce.

John shearing on their farm in Tywyn.

Wool testing gives farmers and wool producers a better understanding of the quality of their wool and can aid in making breeding decisions. When testing wool, the fineness of the wool fibre is measured in a unit known as micron. The micron determines how the fibre will be used and affects the handle and overall appearance of the final product; fibre with a lower micron will hold a higher value. If the micron is below 30 there is potential for the wool to be used in wearable textiles while anything above 30 would generally be considered too coarse to be next to the skin and would sell for a lower price.

Gillian tested the 10 of her Welsh mountain flock and 10 of her Welsh mountain, Romney cross at their first shearing to gain an insight to any changes in the quality and value of the wool. The average micron for the pure Welsh Mountain was 33.4, while the Welsh Mountain, Romney cross produced an average micron of 28. 7, meaning there was a 4.7 micron difference. It should be noted that the micron is often lower at fist shearing and so the number is likely to increase, however, the tests show very promising results.

Gillian’s Welsh Mountain, Romney cross flock.

According to British Wool, the average value of Romney wool in 2021 was 40p/kg and Welsh mountain was 17p/kg. Based on the micron data from the wool testing alone British Wool advised that Gillian’s Welsh Mountain Romney Cross wool could be graded 647, 649 or 760 meaning it would be worth between 26p/kg and 42p/kg, depending on the amount of kemp it contains. By cross breeding her Welsh Mountain flock with Romney Gillian believes she has produced just as good an ewe but with more wool and a finer fleece. Her Welsh Mountain/ Romney cross all graze on the mountain and are just as hardy as pure Welsh Mountain.

The fist step in increasing the value of wool is to take care of the wool and to keep it clean. Gillian, who runs her own craft business ‘The Welsh Woolshed’ in addition to Farming is passionate about the work farmers can do to improve the quality of their wool.

‘Keeping the wool clean is the most important thing, skirt them and don’t use pitch and marker all over the fleece. Hiring a professional shearer can also help. With certain breeds, if you look after the wool and keep it clean they’ll be snapped up by crafters.’


If you are interested in wool testing, Made with wool have partnered with the Wool Testing Authority Europe based here in Wales to offer free wool testing for farmers in Wales. You can order a free kit from our website that will be delivered right to your door!
Made with wool will also be running a webinar with Courtney Pye from the Wool Testing Authority Europe on the 3rd of October on how to read and interpret your wool testing results. Book your place here.

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