Sheep shearing season has well and truly begun in Ireland, with most flocks having been tackled in recent days, though farmers are reporting decreased process for wool. There are many alternative options available though, rather than selling all wools for use in the clothing industry.
The first of which has been mentioned by us before, though is not as widely used as it should be. Wool is long known to be very absorbent of water, though its fibres are known to bond together to also trap water.
This means that wool can be used in the garden very effectively. Firstly, due to its water holding abilities. When buried below where plants will lie, the wool will absorb any run-off water and trap it for use by the plants. In fact, this method has long been used and is even mentioned in books in the early 1900’s. This is due to the outer surface of wool fibres containing fatty acid proteins, which do not absorb water. Water is only absorbed via salt linkages within the wool fibres, allowing for absorption.
Not only this, but wool also makes for an excellent compost. Wool is a biodegradable material, meaning it breaks down slowly. It also just so happens to be an excellent source of nitrogen, something vital for prosperous plant growth. Wool actually contains up to 17% nitrogen, which is significantly higher than the standard 6-7% found in commercial composts.
Dirtied wools which cannot be sold for use in the fashion industry are a perfect choice for gardening. Dirtied belly and back wools, which contain dirt and faecal matter, make for excellent compost material. It can also be used as mulch for around trees and shrubs, as not only is it porous, but it also helps keep plant roots cool.
Alternative animal beddings-
Provided you are confident in the quality and cleanliness of the wool, there is no reason that it cannot be used as an alternative bedding type for other animals.
Dogs are known to love beds made from sheep wools, while some farmers use wools as bedding for young sick and/or lame stock.
Another one previously mentioned by us here, is Sheep wool is a natural insulator, due to the crimpling nature of the fibres, which traps air in its tiny pockets. It also helps provide a thermal barrier and blocks heat from leaving. Sheep wool has a thermal conductivity of between 0.0035 - 0.04 W/mK.
Not only this, but sheep wool can also regulate humidity and can absorb one-third of its weight in moisture, without hampering its insulating capabilities. It is also a good air purifier, ridding areas of bad odours and neutralising harmful substances. It can be heated to as high as 560degrees and unlike other insulations, is not itchy.
Wool for sound-proofing -
Wool is also a very suitable material for the blocking of sound.
Some even use wool to line areas for use as a recording studio or booth. Wool has in fact often been labelled as the perfect material for noise cancellation. It blocks sound, through its natural crimping which traps air, thus providing sound 'insulation'. These sounds get trapped within the tiny air pockets within the wool's fibre. It just might be an option for the budding musicians out there!
So in times when wool is in abundance, don’t just flog it as soon as you can, think it over first as it might mean more money in the bank at the end of the day.