Historically, NC wool producers have pooled their wool to put together quantities large enough to be able to sell on the national market. Due to the shrinkage of the wool market, there is currently only one buyer able to work with sheep producers in the eastern US. Mid States wool Coop out of Ohio has purchased NC wool for the last several years and has agreed to continue to work with our current wool pools.
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How we handle and pack wool does play a big role in the final prices we receive. Wool needs to be full staple length, needs to be packed dry in the proper bags, and well labeled. The current standard for bags are large clear plastic wool bags, available through Mid-States and often available at some county Extension offices. You can pick up bags at the wool pools. We can handle small quantities in different containers, sheets, boxes, burlap bags, plastic garbage bags. These should only be used if you only have one or two fleeces. DO NOT use plastic feed sacks or the poly tarps. These have plastic fibers that contaminate wool and will result in rejection of the entire lot.
The primary commercial market for wool is for white wool, so it really pays to keep colored wool separate from clear wool. If you have sheep with black fibers such as Suffolk, keep that wool separate from the all white breeds such as Dorset.
Most of the wool in NC is the medium staple wool, so do not expect fine staple prices unless you have Rambouillet or one of the other fine wool breeds. If you think you have fine wool, make sure you label it.
Wool can still be a part of a positive cash flow in a sheep operation, but we must pay attention to the details to make it pay.