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Sampling the fleece for testing

  • Hugh Hopkins, Regional Manager, AWTA Ltd., N.S.W.
  • Jock Simmonds, "Rowan Park", NSW.

Advantages of objective fleece measurement include:

  • Accurate rating of goats within a herd, aiding formation of a nucleus of proven sires and dams.
  • Quicker genetic improvement in the herd from use of only proven superior sires, especially in Al programmes etc.
  • Credible sale of superior stock through use of independent testing services.
  • Relation of test results to the phenotypic appearance of objectively superior animals, giving greater accuracy to any future subjective visual assessment undertaken.
  • Estimation of a sire's prepotency or ability to pass on to progeny desirable characteristics such as low mean fibre diameter or higher down yield and weight.

Fleece tests can identify goats which have unstable or high mean down fibre diameter fleeces, or undesirably broad down fibre diameter ranges with an excess of coarse down fibres at or above 28 microns.

The major characteristics measured are of importance to both the processor and the breeder.

The parameters measured are:

  1. the total weight of fibre produced or presented for sale;
  2. the amount of "Down" in the total weight (yield);
  3. the fibre diameter of the "Down".


Quartering Method (Divisional Method)

The quartering method is the only method approved by the ACGA for sampling fleeces. The shorn fleece is weighed on accurate scales, and the weight is recorded. The fleece can then be laid out on a sampling table. The fleece is divided into 2 equal parts, then each of these in turn is divided into 2 further parts to give 4 parts. Each of these is divided again to give 8, 16, and finally 32 parts. These 32 parts are laid on the table and the sampling procedure is commenced.

From each small section an equal sized tuft of fibre is removed. This can be done by pressing a hand firmly on each section and withdrawing a small amount of fleece. Ensure that complete staples are removed, not mainly hair or down. This is continued until all the sections have been sampled. Should the amount not be sufficient, the procedure is repeated until the sample weight required by the individual test house is obtained.

Place the sample portion of the fleece, and an identification card showing the growers details and the fleece details, in individual plastic bags and seal the bag. Consign batches of samples for testing, with the number of samples in the batch listed, specifying test requirements, and showing the grower's details.

The A.C.G.A. recommend this method for all fleeces for fleece competitions, animal sales and for whole shorn fleeces.


Complete consignments of classed lines may be sampled using standard core sampling techniques. In these cases a sharpened core tube of 5/8" diameter is thrust into the bale from cap to base. The hollow tube collects the sample, which is extruded from the tube after it is withdrawn from the bale. This operation is repeated until approximately 200 grams (20-30 cores) is obtained. This is the most accurate method of obtaining a representative sample as every fleece or part of a fleece has an equal opportunity of being sampled.

© 2000 ACGA