August 2, 2008

Sheep and Wool Glossary

Age mark: Piece taken from a sheep’s ear to denote year born.
All counted: Sale yard term for selling ewes with lambs at foot. The final bid is the amount paid for the ewe and each of her lambs.
Alpha lamb: An unweaned lamb too heavy for the beta trade, up to 18-20kg liveweight. Not usually tail-docked or castrated.
Bearing ewe: Ewe with an everted (pushed inside out) uterus and or vagina.
Bobby lamb or beta lamb: A lamb not yet weaned (one to three weeks old) going for slaughter at around 14kg liveweight. Not usually tail-docked or castrated.
Body wool: Wool from the main body of the sheep.
Brand: Identification mark on wool bale or sheep.
Break: Weak or tender part of a wool fibre that under tension breaks apart.
Britch: The lower thigh of the sheep. Britch wool is coarse fibres from that area.
Broken mouthed: Ewe that has broken or missing teeth.
Broken wool: Pieces of fleece wool from which the short and dirty ends have been removed.
Canary stain: Yellow stain in the fleece caused by high temperature and humidity.
Cast sheep: A sheep found lying on its back unable to get up, usually because it is heavy in lamb or has a heavy fleece.
Cast-for-age (CFA): An old sheep (usually ewe over 5 years) culled from the flock because of age.
Catching pen: Pen in woolshed sheep for the shearer to catch.
Character: A composite description of wool quality.
Chute: Ramp or race used for the sheep to exit the shearing board.
Classing: Grouping similar wools together for sale.
Clean wool: Wool that has been scoured or washed.
Cockle: Defect in sheep pelts.
Condition: State of fatness of sheep, or amount of non-wool constituents (dirt and grease) in wool.
Cot: Fleece that has become matted during growth.
Crimp: Natural wave formation in wool. Small waves denote finer wool.
Crossbred wool: Wool from breeds other than Merino or part-Merino breeds.
Crutching: Shearing the wool from the rear end of a sheep.
Crutchings: Wool removed from the crutch.
  • Ring crutch: Removal of wool around vulva and anus.
  • Full crutch: Removal of all wool from the udder, the back and inside the legs, and up over the tail.
  • Belly crutch: Removal of wool from the brisket, the full belly, inside the back legs, around udder, vulva and up over the back.
Cryptorchid: A true cryptorchid is a male with undescended testicle or testicles, but the term is also used to describe a lamb that has been made infertile by applying a rubber ring below the testicles to remove the scrotum, leaving the testes pushed up against the body.
Cull sheep: One selected for slaughter or sale.
Dags: Dirty wool around rear end of sheep.
Dagging: Removing dags from the sheep.
Dead wool: Wool plucked from a dead sheep.
Dipping: Treating sheep with and insecticide for internal and external parasites. Can be immersed in a swim dip, have insecticide poured on (pouron) or be sprayed.
Draft ewe: Same as cast for age.
Dresser skin: Woolly lambskin processed into leather with wool attached.
Dry sheep: One that did not produce a lamb.
Dry/dry: One that did not produce a lamb because it is barren or did not get pregnant.
Ewe: A mature female sheep, usually over two years old.
Eye wigging: Removing wool from around the eyes.
Fadge: Bag in which wool is packed.
Fellmongery: Factory in abattoir or freezing works where wool is removed from sheep skins.
Flock: General term for a group of sheep.
Flock ram: A non-registered ram used in a commercial flock
Flushing: Giving ewes extra feed a few weeks before mating to stimulate ovulation.
Flystrike: Sheep that are attacked by blowflies where their maggots eat the sheep’s flesh.
Fostering: Giving an orphan lamb to another ewe to suckle.
Four-tooths: The second pair appear at 21-24 months old.
Full mouth: The sheep has a ‘full mouth’ when the set of eight permanent teeth is complete − 42 to 48 months of age. After four years of age it can be difficult to assess age because of tooth wear or lost teeth.
Full wool: Ten to 13 months growth of wool.
Greasy wool: Wool as shorn from the sheep containing natural grease.
Gummy: Sheep with not front incisor teeth.
Hair: Differs to a wool fibre as it has a medulla (hole) up the centre.
Halfbred wool: Wool from Corriedale, NZ halfbred or similar sheep, containing between one quarter and three quarters Merino.
Handle: The feel of the wool.
Hoggets: are older lambs in which the central pair or permanent teeth have not yet appeared. Lambs become hoggets in their first winter.
Hogget (for meat): A carcass from a sheep between 12 and 24 months of age, and before 30 September in the year following that in which it was a lamb.
Hungerfine wool: Very fine wool induced by starvation of the sheep.
Joining: Putting the ram with ewes.
Kemp: Short, white brittle medullated fibres on a sheep.
Lamb: Animal up to nine to 10 months old with 8 temporary incisors (milk teeth).
Lamb (for meat): Carcass from a sheep under 12 months old, and before 30 September in the year following that in which it was born.
Lambs wool: Wool shorn from lambs.
Lambing percentage: Measure of how many lambs were produced as a percentage of the ewes in the flock. Here are some ways to calculate it:
  • Number of lambs born/100 ewes joined
  • Number of lambs born/100 ewes lambing
  • Number of lambs docked/100 ewes joined or lambing
  • Number of lambs weaned/100 ewes joined
Line of wool: Several bales of wool of similar type.
Locks (lox): Short wool from below the shearing table or swept from the floor.
Long-tailer: A male whose tail was left undocked to indicate that it wasn’t castrated.
Lot: Line of wool sold at a sale. Minimum of four bales of 460kg total.
Lustre: Sheen seen on some coarse wools, eg Lincoln or Leicester.
Maiden ewe: Female sheep that has not been mated.
Mating harness: Harness fitted to a ram’s chest so he leaves a raddle mark on the ewe when mated.
Mating ratio: The number of ewes joined with a ram.
Micron: One millionth of a meter. Used to measure wool fibre diameter.
Mixed-age flock: Flock of sheep made up of all the age groups from hoggets to 5-year-old ewes.
Mixed sex: Sheep offered for sale in groups of both sexes.
Mob: General term for flock or group of sheep.
Mulesing: Cutting off the loose skin from around the tail of a Merino to remove the wrinkles and reduce flystrike.
Mustering: Gathering sheep with the aid of dogs.
Neck wool: Wool from around the sheep’s neck.
Oddments: Parts of fleeces other than body wool, sold separately e.g. necks, bellies, pieces, locks.
Off shears: Newly shorn sheep.
Pelt: Lamb/sheep skin after wool is removed.
Pickled pelt: Lamb/sheep skin preserved with brine and sulphuric acid.
Pinhole: Small holes in lamb/sheep pelts.
Pizzle: The sheath and penis of a ram or wether.
Pizzle stain: Stained wool from around the pizzle.
Plain wool: Wool without much crimp or character.
Pre-lamb shearing: Shearing ewes in late winter or early spring before lambing.
Prime lamb: A lamb that is ready (finished) for sale to a meat company or fat-stock buyer. It is a more acceptable term than ‘fat lamb’.
Ram: A male sheep of any age.
Raddle: Marking a sheep with chalk or paint marks (approved as scourable from wool).
Rig: Male with an undescended testicle.
Scouring: Washing wool.
Scouring: Sheep with diarrhoea.
Second cut: Wool fibres that are cut twice during shearing and reduced in value.
Second shear: Wool from sheep shorn more frequently than once every eight months.
Shearing: Removing the entire fleece of the sheep. There are many systems eg once/year, twice/year or twice in three years.
Shed hand: Person other than a shearer working in a shearing shed.
Six-tooth: The third pair erupt at 30-36 months of age.
Skirting: Removing oddments from a fleece after shearing.
Slink: Lamb either born dead or died soon after, processed for their skin.
Slipe wool: Wool recovered at a fellmongery by chemical treatment of the skin.
Snow raking: Making a track for sheep to find a way through deep snow.
Sound wool: Wool without defects.
Staple: Natural cluster of wool fibres in a fleece.
Store sheep: Sheep needing to grow more before being ready for slaughter.
Strong wool: Wool with a coarse fibre diameter for its type.
Stud ram: Pedigree ram registered with a breed society.
Suint: Natural water soluble impurity of wool grease.
Sweat locks: Short, heavy, greasy staples of wool from inside the legs.
Teaser ram: Vasectomised ram.
Tail-up, chaser or follow-up ram: A ram used at the end of mating (joining) to mate any late-cycling ewes.
Teaser: A vasectomised ram put in a paddock near ewes to encourage them to cycle prior to mating.
Tender: Wool with a tensile weakness. A less severe form of break.
Terminal sire: A ram used to sire lambs for the meat works (as opposed to replacement stock. It’s the last ram used in a crossbreeding programme so all the lambs produced go to slaughter.
Tippy wool: Wool with very pointed tip to the staple.
Tup: Male sheep (ram).
Tupping: Time when the ram (tup) is with the ewes. Tup is a UK term for a ram.
Two-tooth: The central permanent pair of teeth start to appear at about 12 months of age and are fully erupted before 18 months of age.
Type: Visual description of a sheep’s physical features related to the breed standard.
Unsound wool: Wool with tensile weakness, includes both tender and broken wool.
Virgin wool: Wool used in fabric manufacture for the first time. Pure new wool.
Weaning: Removing lambs from their mothers, usually around 10-16 weeks old.
Webby wool: Mild entanglement of fibres within a fleece. Early stage of cotting.
Wet/dry: A ewe that produced a lamb but didn’t rear it (perhaps it died).
Wether: A castrated male sheep.
Wigging: Shearing wool from around the eyes and head of sheep.
Wool pull: Estimate of weight of wool removed from a skin at a fellmongery.
Wool type: Suitability of wool for a particular form of processing and end use for the breed.
Wool yield: Proportion of useable fibre in a lot of greasy wool, expressed as a percentage.
Woolly hog: Fleece from a hogget unshorn as a lamb.
Yolk: Natural impurities of wool (wax and suint) in greasy wool.

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