From the Middle Ages until the beginning of the 19th century, the kings of Castile and Leon, and later the kings of Spain, cared for and protected the production and conservation of the Merina sheep, the Merino sheep wool is unique and in this post you will discover the main characteristics and advantages of Merino wool.
We know the importance of the Merino breed in Spain We know the importance of the Merina breed in Spain and internationally and its great benefits in the textile and food sector, therefore, our main objective is to take care of our Merina sheep.
Specific characteristics of Merino sheep wool
The Merina breed is a native sheep that is mainly located in the regions of Extremadura (the Autonomous Community with the largest census), the two Castilian regions, Andalusia and Aragon. One of its great qualities is its resistance and ease for long journeys.
Wool is the product that has always distinguished this noble breed thanks to its unique qualities such as softness and delicacy.
In winter, the fibers that make up the fleece grow significantly, in order to protect the animal from the cold.
In early spring, the animal must be sheared to provide hygiene, comfort and welfare for the warmer months of spring and summer.
Its main features are:
- Double thermal insulation, insulates from both cold and heat.
- Water repellent, it can be in contact with fog or light rain without absorbing water, thanks to its natural grease.
- It keeps the heat in spite of being humid or wet.
- It is very breathable, due to the low diameter of the fibers and the air pockets formed between them.
- Delays or eliminates the appearance of odors. Merino wool has natural antibacterial properties, preventing sweat from seeping into the fabric and causing unpleasant odors.
- It contains keratin, which protects it from ultraviolet rays, giving high durability to garments made with Merino wool.
- Unlike other wools, Merino wool is very soft to the touch, which prevents itchiness on contact with the skin.
- Non-flammable, because so much fiber is used, maximum flexibility and resistance to fire, among other things, is achieved.
- As a 100% natural fiber, it is 100% ecological and biodegradable, unlike its artificial competitors, all of which are derived from petroleum and leave a negative impact on our environment.
- Unlike other wools, Merino wool has a great elasticity thanks to the high number of undulations or curls in its fibers. This makes the garments easily recover their shape and adapt like a second skin to our body, thus facilitating our movement.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Merino sheep wool stands out over all others of its species thanks to its unique characteristics, i.e., its fibers and its resistance, among other factors.
The main difference between Merino sheep wool and its main competitors is its great insulating power, that is to say, when it is hot it will adjust to the temperature. It contains keratin which protects our skin from the sun’s rays, Merino wool is breathable due to its diameter and its air pockets, we can also say that our wool is 100% ecological, unlike artificial garments, many of them derived from petroleum or industrial processes.
Care for best quality Merino sheep wool
In Merino Breed we know the importance of care in order to obtain Merino wool in optimal conditions, therefore, we first start shearing our Merino wool in early spring, in order to provide them with hygiene, comfort and well-being for the warmer months of spring and summer, since this is the ideal time to shear our Merino wool. animal welfare and the shearing process should be once a year. Did you know that a sheep can produce up to 9,000 km of fiber per year?
The first thing to do is to group all the animals at the entrance of the shearing area, and then carry out the practice individually and make sure that the wool is not wet or damp.
There is usually a crew of 4 or 5 shearers and 2 or 3 sorters. The sorter’s work rate is faster than that of the shearer and, for this reason, there are half as many sorters as shearers.
Once the wool has been sorted in the field, it is sent to the washing plant to extract the organic (vegetable fibers, lanolin, etc.) and inorganic (soil) remains and thus prepare it for the carding or combing process.
To treat the wool, it is necessary to wash it meticulously with hot water, in order to extract all the organic waste that has been embedded in the wool throughout the life of the Merino sheep. Then we will proceed to rinse it with cold water and leave it exposed to the sun on a flat surface to dry properly.
Next, we proceed to carding and combing, which consists of stretching the wool fragments until they acquire a soft texture and light weight, in order to be able to carry out the spinning process.
The care of the cattle and their environment is also fundamental for the wool they produce to be of the excellent quality that characterizes the Merino breed, or for any product derived from it, such as meat and milk.
The Merino breed, being raised in an extensive regime, enjoys freedom in full contact with nature, with which it establishes a symbiosis that is decisive for the inherent quality of its wool, meat, milk and skin products.