Merino - a breed of sheep with warm and beautiful wool
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The breed of merino sheep is distinguished by an amazingly thick, fine-wooled wool, of high quality and valuable, as if dressing animals in beautiful festive fur coats. Our article will be useful for everyone who is going to breed these animals, or purchase merino wool, as well as products from it.
Meet the Merino Sheep
Among the fine-wool breeds, the merino is the most widespread.
Among the fine-wool breeds, the merino is the most widespread. The wonderful properties of their wool, which we will discuss below, have made them very popular. Most of these animals, despite the vast desert expanses, live in distant Australia, although they come from Spain. Around the 12th century, Spanish sheep breeders developed a new breed from sheep brought from different parts of the world - Asia Minor and northern African countries.
Until the 16th century, no one in the world could compete with Spain in the field of sheep wool production, and the export of merino specimens proper was prohibited on pain of death until the 18th century. During this century, they were exported from the country three times: at the beginning - to Sweden, in the middle of the century Saxony received the Merino, and by the end of the century - the still wild mainland Australia, discovered only a century before. By the way, it was in this year, in 1788, that Australia established itself as a British colony. Thus, taking into account the above, this year may well be considered the main holiday for merino sheep. But they started with only 70 heads that fit on one ship!
Video about sheep breed Stavropol Merino
As a rule, the main purpose of the breed is to produce wool, since the animals are not distinguished by their large weight. However, by our time there are already quite a few German, American and South African merino, which have sufficient mass to attract meat producers as well.
And the year 2003 glorified the breed throughout Kazakhstan - with cute stamps depicting the honorary owners of luxurious fur coats.
Why is the wool of this breed so good that it has become so popular? Let's see:
- Worsted, or, in a simple way, combed merino wool - very high quality and delicate. The thickness of its fibers is in the range from 1/40 to 1/70 mm, several times thinner than a human hair, which allows us to call the heroes of our article a fine-wool breed. The thinnest one is located in the area of the withers, among Australian and New Zealand representatives, snow-white and comfortable in any conditions.
- Wool fibers are warm, pleasant to the touch, have increased hygroscopicity (up to 33%, it is relieved of excess moisture by physical exertion of animals). Such wool is perfect for making costumes, and from one kilo of merino wool you can get three times more fabric than with regular, coarse wool. Considering that some individuals are so rich in wool that they look like a cloud with a barely noticeable muzzle, it is difficult to immediately imagine how much tissue will come out of one haircut. And one in which you can walk for three days without smelling sweat!
Wool fibers - warm, pleasant to the touch, highly hygroscopic
- Finally, the rams of this breed are very unpretentious to external conditions, perfectly settling on pastures with different climatic conditions. Last but not least, thanks to the quality of its own fur coat, which provides balanced heat and air exchange.
Variety of Merino Sheep
If it was enough to mention some merino in passing, then the Australian and Soviet merino are sheep breeds, whose wool is especially popular in the post-Soviet countries, and they deserve a separate word.
Australian merino is originally a mixture of English, German and Spanish lines. Further, the rambouille from France and the Vermont from the States also took part in the breeding experiments. Since the end of the 18th century, three types of Australians have been bred - Fine, Medium and Strong. The exterior and quality of their wool are somewhat different, although the whole trinity is famous for its excellent quality, which still allows them to participate in the improvement of sheep breeds around the world, including the Grozny variety. Interestingly, four out of five Australian rams are merino.
Australian merino - originally a mixture of English, German and Spanish lines
Fine - the lightest, by weight usually not exceeding 70 kg type, living in a cold humid climate, with fine wool and without folds, but with a high (more than 70) fineness quality. Mediums are distinguished by two or three folds, weighing up to 85 kg, fineness up to 66, and are bred on the steppe plains. Strongs reach 95 kg in weight, differing in the largest sizes, but the smallest of the three fineness qualities - up to 60. But wool from one ram can be sheared up to 10, and sometimes even 20 kg. Ewes of all three types weigh almost two times less than rams, as many times less wool, but, like all merino breeds, they are very fertile (the figure reaches 140%).
The Soviet merino is extremely widespread throughout the world. By the way, he is a descendant of American rambouille. Let it not be said that post-revolutionary Russia was alien to everything Western, because it was by the 30s of the last century that the breed was formed. The new specimens were larger, but the coat length was inferior to their American counterparts. Subsequent breeding experiments made it possible to breed different types of sheep, adapted to different needs and conditions. Thus, modern Soviet merino sheep may have the features of Grozny sheep, and at the same time - Stavropol, Caucasian, Askanian or Altai.
The constitution of the Soviet merino is powerful, the body is proportional, the backbone is strong. The beautiful exterior is decorated with small but sharp horns bent back and sideways. A developed fold can be seen on the necks of the rams. The developed burda is characteristic.
Video about sheep of the Soviet Merino breed
Although the record weight of the merino for Soviet breeds is almost one and a half centners, it usually does not exceed 125 kg, which, however, is still one of the highest indicators in the world. Ewes weigh no more than 55 kg (with an almost centner record). Wool - white, well balanced on both axes, up to 8-9 cm long. The staple fleece has a closed structure, its fibers are sinuous. The fineness of a fairly high quality - up to 64-70. From one ram you can cut up to 12 kg of a high-quality product, although there have been record holders who can donate up to 28 kg. From the uterus, usually up to 6-7 kg is sheared. The share of washed fiber from Soviet merino does not exceed 50%.
We have come to the end of our review. Now, on the one hand, you know how wonderful clothes merino rams give you, on the other hand, you understand what broad prospects their breeding can give you.