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The Black Art Of Score Cards And Judging Coloured Fleeces

Explained by Georgie Fairless

I have been asked to write an item to unravel the mysteries of fleece judging and the score card.
If you have decided to present your coloured fleeces at A&P shows, or the Golden Fleece competition, here are a few tips to get you started.

Maybe you have already shown fleeces and have been confused with the score card points system. If so this short article may help you understand the wording.

Freedom From Fault 10 Points

Judges don’t always agree on the micron but the first thing they do is to dig deep into the fleece with their hands to look for staples from various parts of the fleece. If there are thistles, barley grass and other bits of vegetation that can prick the fingers it automatically means a point off the score card! Cotted fleece, shed stain and/or dags, second cuts (short pieces) are often found buried in fleeces so each offending object will reduce the number of points. So, make sure you remove all these extras even if it means checking and shaking your fleece several times and repeating the process over a few days before showing. It will not reduce the weight much but will significantly improve the look of the fleece.

Remember – a 4 kg fleece will nearly always earn 25 points for weight on the score card.

Prevention Is Better Than Trying To Fix A Problem

One way of reducing contamination of your precious fleece is to check the paddocks where the sheep graze. Grub, spray, or remove any weeds such as dock, barley grass and thistles especially in the autumn when these plants go to seed and the seeds stick to the wool. With pet lambs, especially, avoid beds of hay or overhead hay feeders.

Soundness. 10 points

Look for any breaks in the staples. Pull a staple down to a few strands and pull both ends. A break can occur in any part of the staple due to stress, weather conditions, lambing, diet. The fleece will lose points for this.

Staple Length. 5 Points

If the staple length is about 12 cm long, it is an ideal length for hand spinning and craft work. 2-4 cm either way is acceptable. However, any longer or shorter than this and you may lose a point, or two, or three.

Greasy Fleece Weight, Yield and Clean Fleece Weight

These terms which are also on the score card can be a mystery for the beginner. The greasy fleece weight is the actual weight of the fleece when weighed at the show. Yield is an estimate, made by the judge on the day, of how much weight is caused by the grease, suint and lanolin in the fleece which would be removed by washing. A complete fleece can weigh in at 5 -6 kg depending on the size of the sheep. However, a presentable fleece of 4 kg is usually enough to earn 25 points for weight.

So

Some of the 5 -6 kg may be second cuts, dags, cotted and unspinable wool, which should be removed when skirting. These bits and pieces will not weigh much but will improve the overall look and the fleece will be better off and more valuable without them.

Avoid Entering A Fleece More Than Twice

Fleeces tend to become dull and not very presentable after being pushed and pulled around, wrapped up and left to suffocate. It is a good idea to refresh the fleece after one show by giving it a good shake, time in the sun, fresh air and repacking it the day before the next show.

Remember

  • Nothing is hidden from the judge.
  • Coloured fleeces are grown for hand craft spinners, felters and weavers who prefer individual fleeces for their colour, micron, and expect to be able to use the whole fleece on offer.
  • Please take the time to skirt, remove the rough bits and leave the best for the show, to display and possibly to sell.

I hope this information is useful, makes sense and helps you understand the score card and the potential value of your fleece, given some care and effort.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Fleece weight of 4kg is not obtainable for a smaller breed like a Gotland.
    Straight away it is on the back foot in this important section that is worth 25% of the marks ! How is this fair ?

    1. This matter is already under consideration and is to be discussed at the next meeting of the BCSBA judging committee in mid April. We will let you know the outcome.

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