Angoras are shorn every six months. Provision of suitable shearing facilities is essential for premium fibre production and to ensure shearers will want to shear on your farm.
First priority is to contact a shearer or shearing team determine their availability to attend your farm and to determine how long they will need to be on-farm to shear all your animals together. Remember shearers are professionals and in the most cases, contractors, and you should determine a price before commencing the job. You will need to know what supplies the shearer or team will bring with them and what you will need to have on hand. You should determine if the shearer/s will stay on site (if the sheaing is expected to take more than one day) and what plans are in place for meals and accommodation.
To reduce the incidence of potential pen staining within the shearing shed environment, all animals should be yarded at least 4 hours prior to shearing, to enable animals to ’empty out’ before they reach the shearing board. It is desirable wherever possible, for the animals to be yarded in the afternoon prior to shearing, with time to empty out in the yards, and then subsequently spend overnight in the shed. Before housing it is beneficial to draft animals into age groups because this reduces the degree of variability of the major fleece characterisitics of animals within a particular group. This in turn simplifies the classing process by improving the uniformity of fibre passing across the classing table therefore reducing the number of lines or desciptions which apply to animals of that group and avoiding confusion when classing. Drafting angoras may need to be slightly more complex depending on the producers breeding programme, but basic drafting for age is a minimum requirement.
The next step after pre-shearing preparation of animals is to prepare the shearing shed.
Shearing Shed Preparation
There are many and varied designs for shearing sheds and choosing a plan will depend on your requirements, number of animals and financial constraints. For detailed information regarding shearing shed design go to NSW Agriculture Note 2408 Shearing Shed Design.
The shearing shed, shearing board and the classing and pressing area, should be thoroughly cleaned prior to shearing, and rubbish bins provided to cater for any rubbish that may be produced during the shearing and classing process.In addition to a clean and uncluttered working environment, all shearing requirements should be ordered in advance to ensure everything needed is available when shearing commences. Check with your shearer to determine what you need to supply.
The implementation of good husbandry and flock management procedures during fleece production, in conjunction with careful pre-shearing preparation of animals and the shearing shed, are the first major steps in ensuring maximum financial returns. To fully justify these efforts and to ensure maximum potential is achieved, adequate fleece preparation standards need to be realised via the skirting and classing process.
To class mohair correctly, a spacious shed with good lighting is essential. Good lighting is required to ensure evaluation of fibre characteristics and any faults present can be easily determined.
The floor and classing area must be clean and sound and adequate rubbish bins should be provided to ensure contaminates do not find their way into the mohair.
The classing table/tables should be at a height of the classer’s waist, which will help ensure a comfortable working height and reduce the need for excessive bending or stretching.
The tabletop should be constructed from 2.5cm x 5cm square mesh, which allows for short fibre and second cuts to be shaken from the fleece, through the table and onto the floor.
The round classing tables used by A.M.M.O. Ltd. are 1.8 metres in diameter and approximately 1 metre in height.
Round tables are most suitable for the classing operation although oblong tables are also adequate. A small secondary oblong or square mesh table would be useful to sort crutchings, bellies & stains. Click here for a diagram of a suitable round classing table.
The object of skirting a fleece is to remove all faulty portions that may be present, and to ultimately aim at achieving a fleece that is as uniform as possible in regards to fleece quality (i.e. fibre fineness), staple length, kemp content, condition, style and character and vegetable matter content.
After the fleece has been straightened out on the classing table, and any locks adhering to the fleece have been removed, and any second cuts present have been shaken free from the fleece, the major skirting process then commences.
The Classer/Shedhand will proceed to remove all short, discoloured, stained or excessively kempy portions that may be present. Attention to detail is important in relation to dense fleece types. Dense fleeces often contain cotted portions at the outside edges or points of the fleece. These cotted pieces need to be skirted from the body of the fleece, and sorted into either a SCOT or HCOT line.
In addition to skirting any short or cotted fibre from the edges of the fleece, any stained fibre that has remained attached to the britch area, must also be removed.
After all stains, cotted edges and short fibre have been skirted from the fleece, the next area of the fleece that needs particular attention is the neck. The fibre present in the neck portion of the fleece, as a general rule, tends to be stronger than the rest of the fleece and should be removed. Strong neck fibre is generally characterised by large broad flat or bold staples. The removal of this significantly stronger neck fibre, should improve the uniformity of the remaining body of the fleece by reducing the variation in micron and improve evenness of style and character. Neck fibre from 2nd shearing onwards should be removed, as in the majority of cases this warranted to maintain uniformity of micron.
Another area of the fleece that may need attention is the back line. Some Angoras may have kempy or short compressed staples in this region. Consequently, if the fibre in the backline is significantly different to the majority of the body of the fleece in either kemp content or staple length, it should be removed.
If Angoras have been running in country, which has enabled vegetable matter to become entangled in the fleece, particular care must be taken to ensure the degree of vegetable matter contamination is minimised by judicious skirting. As a rule, fleeces carrying light vegetable fault (i.e.. 1% – 3%) should be skirted reasonably heavily to remove the clumpy portions of vegetable matter and leave the remainder of the fleece as free as possible from vegetable matter. Fleeces carrying medium to heavy vegetable fault (i.e. 3% and above) need only be skirted lightly to remove the worst clumps of vegetable fault and any stain that may be present.
Once skirted fibre can be sorted or ‘classed’ using its varying characterisitics, into specific types. Click here to see more information on classing.
Once shearing is complete fibre should be immediately pressed or tightly packed into clean wool packs and consigned to the point of sale as soon as possible. If fibre needs to be stored for any length of time greater than 1 month, suitable protection from insect pests such as moths and carpet beetles needs to be undertaken. The shed should be swept again and all rubbish bagged and removed to prevent rodent infestation. Equipment should be packed away in a dust free environment if possible.
(02) 6959 2988 F: 02 6959 3004
PO Box 16, Narrandera, NSW 2700
68 River St. Narrandera, NSW 2700