Shearing & clip preparation
commences as early as June (mainly pre-lambing shearing of breeding
ewes) and the bulk of the shearing is in October-November. Most wool is
harvested under the “Acondicionamiento de lanas” guide. SUL
(Secretariado Uruguayo de
la Lana) has been involved in
long term programs to improve shearing methods and clip preparation
standards in the shed with the support of the local wool industry. This
code of practice describes the recommended practices to prepare the
Uruguayan clip. The main objectives are to prepare uniform lines of
wool, free of contamination and correctly documented in order to provide
wool exporters with a product they can handle confidently and achieve
the highest standards required for processing into quality products.
wool is shorn from the sheep, fleeces are classed and skirted in the
shearing sheds, removing bellies and stained pieces.
of wool obtained are: A Fleeces (bulk of the wool lot, of the best
quality); B Fleeces (with some minor quality problems such as poor
colour, shorter staples, etc); I Fleeces (inferior class, with major
defects); L fleeces (fleeces of animals with pigmented skin spots).
Oddments obtained are: Pieces (skirted edges from the fleece); Bellies
(wool from the belly region of the sheep); Crutchings (wool from the
tail section of the sheep, containing urine or dung stain) and Locks
(short wools, second cuts, etc).
In each flock, hoggets and adult
sheep (breeding ewes and wethers) are shorn separately.
predominant marketing system is the direct sale to local processors and
exporters (auction selling system does not exist in Uruguay).
Pricing is generally based on an assumed 90:10 fleece:belly ratio with a
single price for each lot. The use of on farm pre-sale objective
measurements of wool is increasing as a consequence of local industry
demand. SUL´s certified test results (basic measurements include mean
fibre diameter and scoured yield of A fleeces) are widely used as a
basis for pricing wools. Other marketing option is provided by Central
Lanera Uruguaya: growers that are members of this cooperative are paid
an average season price according to micron and subjective assessment of
other quality attributes.
A premium of 7 cents/kg is paid
for wool with the SUL green label certifying the standard of clip
preparation. About 80 accredited shearing contractors -trained and
supervised by SUL- are responsible of this “green label” clip
quality control at the shearing shed. These contractors –shearers
and wool handlers- take responsibility for higher clip preparation
standards and pressing the wool in 200 kg
non-contaminant bales. A lightblue label also exists, getting a 2
cents/kg premium; in this case, the clip quality control is provided
by the woolgrower owner of each lot. In last seasons, price premiums
for green-labelled lots were higher (for finer wools in particular)
in the spot market.