A report compiled by Cape Wools warns that wool contaminated due to poor shed management damages the reputation of the South African clip and can result in big claims against buyers or processors.
Foreign objects in the wool, from bale twine to wire and bolts, pose a serious threat to the long-term sustainability and profitability of wool farming and the wool-processing industry worldwide, the document says.
Hard objects in a bale can damage core-sampling and wool-processing machines, while deviating fibres (black hair and kemp) can spoil metres of fabric as these only show up at the final stage of processing. In addition, says the Cape Wools document, increasing worldwide antipathy towards any form of pollution, and stricter regulations – particularly by the European Union – on environmental pollution, are putting pressure on the wool industry to eliminate chemical contaminants and ensure that pesticide-free wool products reach the market.
Wool should be marketed as a natural, environment-friendly quality fibre. “Anything that undermines this image can lead to consumer resistance and have a negative effect on the marketability and price of wool, regardless of how well the clip is classed.”
T he report suggests ways of preventing contamination in the shearing shed: Clean the shed thoroughly before shearing starts and store away any tools, bolts and other metal objects. Minimise possible contamination by animal hair, feathers and baling twine. Ensure that the holding pens are clean. ducate the shearing team and workers about the dangers of contamination. Provide a rubbish bin with a lid for cigarette butts and other rubbish. S upervise during shearing. Keep dogs or other animals out of the shed. Use a rubber rake rather than an ordinary broom on hair in the shearing shed. Never use jute bags in the shearing shed, either for wiping feet or sharpening shears. Rather use cardboard, paper or a piece of sheepskin. Never use baling twine in the shearing shed, even for hanging tools or other gadgets against the wall. ake sure that shearers don’t use twine for their shears. nsure that shearers do not have to sleep in the shearing shed. Always shear purebred sheep first.
The Cape Wools Code of Conduct for Clip Preparation (Classing Standards) also provides guidelines on avoiding contamination prior to shearing: Wool stained with branding ink, tar, urine, dung, blood or paint, or discoloured by fungi or chemicals, must be removed before shearing, packed separately and marked as “Brands”. Remove all bloodstained wool during the shearing process. Ask shearers to remove pieces of skin cut off during shearing. Skin pieces quickly become dry and hard and can damage carding machines. Top knots and cheek wool can contain hairy fibres and must be packed with the lox, irrespective of how long and attractive they look. Coloured fibres are often found around the horns and should not be packed with bellies or pieces.
Packing and marking of bales: Buy only packs conforming to the appropriate standards and specifications endorsed by the SA Wool Textile Council. From 1 July 2007, polyethylene packs will be phased out in favour of nylon packs in an effort to limit wool pack contamination. Always turn wool packs inside out and shake out any loose fibres (do this outside the shed). Make sure that all hooks and press spikes are sharp and use only the prescribed number of bale hooks. Blunt spikes can break or force fibres from the wool pack into the wool. When more than one line is packed into a bale, separate the lines with a paper divider, and no other material. The bale must be marked “Bin”, followed by the symbols denoting the separate lines. arking ink should be applied in such a way that it doesn’t seep through the bale. Avoid as far as possible any stock remedies such as wound sprays that can stain wool. – Roelof Bezuidenhout For more information contact Cape Wools on (041) 484 4301, e-mail capewool@ capewools.co.za or visit www.capewools.co.za