On this page, we hope to say more about the parts of the fleece that should be removed. During shearing, most of the belly, head, legs, and some of the neck wool are removed.
Here is a closer look at neck wool ... full of hay bits, or VM, vegetable matter. When a sheep is "coated", or wears a coat from shearing to shearing, there is the distinct line of the neck edge of the coat. All of the neck wool that is not under the coat, and most of the chest wool that WAS under the coat will be discarded. The neck wool because it is full of VM, and the chest wool because it has been rubbed by wearing the coat, and is likely felted, matted or "cotted".
After the neck wool has been removed, if you will go to the opposite side of the fleece, you are going to find the tail, or "dock" of the fleece. All of the dock wool should be removed, as it contains urine and poop. (At least in a ewe fleece. A ram fleece has the most urine mid-belly)
It's very important to remove all of the "sweat locks". These are the greasy locks from around/under the legs and tail. These locks are especially hard to see in a black fleece and you almost have to skirt by touch. Try to locate where each of the four legs would have been. Here you will find the sweat locks ... locks covered in black, grease.
There is an unfounded belief that soaking grease fleece in cold water (WITHOUT SOAP) will somehow remove dirt, and grease from a fleece.
This is not the case, any more than washing dirty dishes, or clothes, or you own hair, in cold water without soap will get them clean. Sheep spend their entire lives outside, in fields or perhaps some time in a barn. They lay down where they have urinated and pooped. They don't bathe, ever.
In the fleece, there is a year's accumulation of everything they may have eaten or laid in. If cold water without soap was going to get a sheep clean, then standing in the rain or snow would get them clean. It doesn't.
Washing the wool as described on our page here, will get the grease fleece clean.
Here's hoping you find your hands in grease fleece often!
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