Wool Grading by the American Blood Count System
Well, if you bred a Merino to some other non-Merino sheep the offspring would be half Merino, and you would expect that lamb's wool to have half the character of the Merino fleece. Further, since most other sheep have longer, coarser wool than Merinos do, you would expect that half of the character of that lamb's wool would also be longer and coarser. So, what you would get is called a 1/2 blood fleece and you would expect it to have a larger fiber diameter than Merino wool, a somewhat larger crimp, and a staple length of about 3 to 3 1/2 inches.
Then, if you crossed that half blood lamb with another sheep the offsring's wool would be called a 3/8ths blood fleece, and so on. The seven grades of wool, by the blood system are:
|Fine Wool||2 1/2 inches in staple length||Very fine crimp (close together)|
|1/2 Blood Wool||3 inches in staple length||Meduim fine crimp|
|3/8ths Blood Wool||3 1/2 inches in staple length||Medium crimp|
|1/4 Blood Wool||4 inches in staple length||Medium coarse crimp|
|Low 1/4 Wool||4 1/2 inches in staple length||Coarse crimp (large waves)|
|Common||5 inches in staple length||Very coarse|
|Braid||6 inches in staple length||The most coarse|
One of the surprises of breeding sheep is what will the wool look like? That is why a lot of breeders stick to a particular breed of sheep - you can expect certain wool qualities. However, there is that occasional individual who seems to get more of one ancestor's qualities than an equal share. That individual whose fleece is a lot finer than it should be or a lot coarser than you hoped for.
Perhaps you have heard of the English (Bradford) Spinning Count System. This originated in the 19th century (along with mechanized spinning equipment). It is the number of hanks of yarn, each 560 yards in length, that it is possible to spin from one pound of clean wool. The finer the wool fiber, the more hanks (greater length, thinner yarn) that can be obtained from one pound.
Or, perhaps you have heard of the latest and greatest: the Micron System. For this you need a microscope and a background slide with micron crosshairs for comparison.
|Fine Wool||64 to 70 to 80 Hanks||Less than 22.04 Microns|
|1/2 Blood||60 to 62 Hanks||22.05 to 24.94 Microns|
|3/8 Blood||56 to 58 Hanks||24.95 to 27.84 Microns|
|1/4 Blood||50 to 54 Hanks||27.85 to 30.99 Microns|
|Low 1/4||46 to 48 Hanks||31.00 to 34.39 Microns|
|Common||44 to 40 Hanks||34.40 to 36.19 Microns|
|Braid||40 to 36 Hanks||36.20 to 40.20 Microns|
|Delaine Merino||80's Down to 64's||18 to 22 Microns|
|Rambouillet||70's Down to 60's||19 to 25 Microns|
|New Zealand Merino||64's Down to 60's||20 to 25 Microns|
|Targhee & Romeldale||62's Down to 58's||22 to 26 Microns|
|Corriedale & Columbia||62's Down to 46's||22 to 34 Microns|
|Southdown||60's Down to 50's||24 to 31 Microns|
|Blue Leicester||60's Down to 56's||24 to 28 Microns|
|Shropshire, Suffolk, Dorset Horn, Montadale||58's Down to 50's||25 to 31 Microns|
|Finish Landrace (Finns) & Cheviot||58's Down to 48's||25 to 32 Microns|
|Oxford||50's Down to 46's||29 to 34 Microns|
|Romney||48's Down to 44's||31 to 36 Microns|
|Border Leicester||46's Down to 40's||33 to 38 Microns|
|Lincoln & Cotswold||40's Down to 36's||37 to 40 Microns|