WOOL What is it used for?

What is Wool used for?

Wool is one of the most versatile materials at our disposal.  Its used in beds and sofas, woven into fabric for suits, coats, upholstery, carpets and rugs, felted to make hats and decorative items, knitted into jumpers, crocheted into bedspreads and turned into sound and heat insulation.  The question is, what can’t wool be used for?   

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The Hampshire sheep were primarily bred to keep the thin soil of various downlands in Britain fertile. They are a medium to large sized breed that are excellent producers of meat, wool and good with landscape management.

The Bleu du Maine sheep is a breed of domestic sheep from France. It is a meat sheep breed and raised mainly for meat production. The breed was actually originated from the western France, in the region common to the departments of Maine-et-Loire, Mayenne and Sarthe around the 1800s. These animals were developed from a cross between Leicester Longwool and Wensleydale sheep which were imported during that time. The breed is also known by some other names such as Maynne Blue, Maine à tête bleue, Maine-Anjou, Blue-headed Maine, Bluefaced Maine, Bazougers and Blauköpfiges Fleischschaf (German).

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LEAN & ADAPTABLE SHEEP BREEDS Charollais, Lleyn, Vendeen

Here are more adaptable sheep. Farming sheep serves many purposes. Some sheep breeds lend themselves to provide the whole range of products, wool, meat and milk. In Ireland most are bred for meat. However we have identified breeds for you that are good for milk and wool. Obviously, sheep produce wool and there are different grades. We will cover this topic and meat and milk products in seperate blogs. With all the breeds of sheep available, knowing your purpose for raising sheep is extremely important. Choosing from all the sheep breeds for your farm should start with your primary purpose in mind. Are you raising sheep primarily for fiber, meat or breeding stock? Additionally, some breeders enjoy showing their sheep in breed shows, for conformation, and type.

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The Zwartbles name means Black with a White Blaze. A very noble yet elegant black sheep with a distinctive white blaze from poll to surround the muzzle, two to four white socks up to but not beyond the knees or hocks and undocked tails with a white tip. Like a short horn cow these sheep serve the dual purpose for meat and milk but have the addtion of a very fine thick fleece with plenty of crimp. The Zwartbles sheep are considered to have a superior conformation that can be passed down to the next generation, it has many characteristics considered desirable for cross breeding, its large frame, prolific nature, milky ewes, and fast growth rate. Commercial sheep farmers have become aware of the Zwartbles reputation for rapid growth, a low fat carcase and are successfully using the rams as maternal sires. The ewe lambs produced are retained for breeding and crossed with any of the main terminal sires.

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Suffolk sheep are a black-faced, open-faced breed of domestic sheep raised primarily for meat. They are polled and have black open faces along with black legs and white woolled bodies. Suffolks are considered a large breed of sheep, their large frame and muscular bodies make them an ideal breed for meat production, however; they are also good for wool production as well. These strong and hardy animals are good mothers.

The Suffolk evolved from the mating of Norfolk Horn ewes with Southdown rams in the Bury St Edmunds area of the UK. These sheep were known as Southdown Norfolks, or locally, as “Black faces.” The first recording is in 1797 when in his “General view of agriculture in the county of Suffolk” Arthur Young stated: “These ought to be called the Suffolk breed, the mutton has superior texture, flavour, quantity and colour of gravy.”


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Over the next two months we will introduce you to different sheep breeds in Ireland. The National Sheep Breeders Association is a good source of information on sheep breeds and events throughout the year if you are interested in seeing these breeds. You will also find information on breeds and breeders on the individual breed society social media sites. This week we start with the Galway Sheep.

The Galway Sheep Breeders Association was established in 1923. The Association was founded to encourage the breeding and conservation of Galway Sheep and to maintain the Sheep as a pure breed.

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