UK wool prices

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Imagedude

Full Member
Feb 24, 2011
1,973
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Gwynedd
A friend of mine has just been paid £15.41 by the British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB) for one and a quarter tonnes of fleeces! Most sheep farmers are now burning or composting their fleeces as there is no market for them. Makes you wonder why wool clothing is so expensive.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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634
Lancashire
Yet they still have to shear them for welfare reasons at a loss. Whoever is making a killing from wool it is no longer at the fleece production end. We'd not have the chancellor of the Exchequer sitting on a wool sack if prices had been the equivalent of today's prices that's for sure!
 
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Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
35,760
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S. Lanarkshire
It's fashion.
Nowadays so many people are fitting plastic finished laminate floorings that wool carpeting isn't a staple use anymore.
Clothing wool is fussy. Much of the British woollen crop is harsh. It's better for the sheep in our weather but it's not such a fine wool and few folks now wear heavy outdoor woollens. Cagoules are easy.

When the Chancellor first sat on a woolsack the English and Welsh wool was superb. However, if you look at old maps you'll see 'Sheep Houses' written on them. We don't do that now.
Sheep weren't sent up the hills to live all year, they were carefully brought in at night, and their wool was cared for. It was really only when the Cheviot leases started that the Highland Clearances sped up and the flock numbers in the UK soared.

I spin, but when I first bought a fleece fit for handspinning (they'll all spin, I've even spun Highland Cow, but if I'm going to go to all the work, I want really good fleece) they cost me five times the price I pay now.

M
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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Lancashire
Decades ago the company I be worked for had a visit from some marketing types who had set up a company to market the British but especially Lakeland wool that couldn't find a market. Trimmings and the rougher grades. We were polite but 650°C and high gas velocities doesn't go well with wool!! We did however say that general, building insulation was it's best option. They already had that thought but were struggling to sell it. AIUI their only customer was some guy making those wooden camping pods in Cumbria at the time.

Fast forward to present day it's being sold in DIY stores now, it's become a premium but mainstream insulation for those willing to pay more for more eco credentials. It's a good use for it I reckon but it'll never be a big money earner least of all for the farmers.
 
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Toddy

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Jan 21, 2005
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I don't want wool insulation in my home. I know they treat it with chemicals (moths, mice, etc.,) but though I don't want to encourage moths or mice, I also know just how careful I have to be around those chemicals.

Sheep are livestock, if there's no market for them, if they become financially unviable, then the farmers have little recourse but to reduce the numbers.

The original Statistical Accounts of Scotland have not just the numbers of people in every parish but also the newsy gossip from the Ministers responsible for writing them up. Some of them mention the sheep, and how the older folks wished that they'd kept some of their own animals, the ones with the finer coats rather than taking up with the new hardy breeds.

I think fewer beasts, but with better quality wool, and finding a decent market for it, might be an option.

M
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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Lancashire
I've got a work colleague and friend who's farm has a breeding stock of sheep with the finer fleece and better meat I believe. She's been really fussy with building it up so now it's supposed to be at a high standard. It's only a smallholding really and their real money is contract rearing cattle so it's still a work in progress and not about earning. They're the English version of crofting so that's not as critical yet.
 
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Toddy

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Jan 21, 2005
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Good for her :) I hope it's a success :) There are some beautiful fleeces out there, but often hard to find.
Lot of folks knitting and felting these days too. It's popular again.

If she is really aiming for a market, it might be worth her while contacting one of the knitting magazines and asking if they'd like some photos ? Maybe not pay her for an interview, but get a little advertising re an article, sort of thing ?
 
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Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
1,599
580
Berlin
People don't want that itchy stuff anymore. Cotton, merino and plastic are more comfortable. Cotton and plastic are cheaper.

A friend of mine insulated the roof of his garden house with German wool many years ago. It worked very well.

Composting masses of wool isn't so easy, but sold as pellets in organic food shops for the balcony plants would surely work well.

It's just the case that someone has to do it.