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Quality Control

The United Kingdom is unique in that it has more native pure breeds of sheep within its shores than any other country in the world.

In addition to this there are numerous cross breeds and continental breeds. The BWMB grades wool to internationally recognised standards, the purpose of which is to ultimately add value.


The BWMB is also unique in that it carries out the whole range of services to the industry:

The Board has to constantly review its operations to ensure that British Wool is presented as favourably as possible, and for it to be continued to be recognised as a quality unique fibre by the International Textile Trade.

Market requirements for British Wool have changed, particularly over the last two years as a greater percentage of the clip is now delivered direct from the Board depots to the end customer. Therefore, the Board has to ensure it is delivering out of its depots a consistent, quality product within the criteria set by its customers.

With ever changing consumer requirements and manufacturing capabilities, there is a greater range of potential uses for our fibre and wool, previously designated as carpet type wool, now has a wider application.

The Wool Graders employed throughout our depots are all highly skilled having initially served a 5 year apprenticeship. Each individual fleece is graded into ‘types’ rather than specific breeds, to ensure that the global markets are provided with fleeces possessing the unique characteristics required to suit the end users requirements.

Excellent Clip Presentation Certificates are being sent to producers where the grader recognises excellent wool clip presentation.

Grading Terms

Hog First Shear up to 15 months growth
Ewe Second or subsequent shear up to 12 months growth
No1 Good uniformity of style, length, colour with a sound staple
No2 Average uniformity of style, length and possibly some slight discolouration and/or staple weakness
Discoloured Natural discolouration, yellowness in colour
Soft Cotts Slightly matted fibres
Cotts Matted fibres
Grey Grey fibre content more than expected within the fleece
Kemp Kempy fibre content more than expected within the fleece

British Wool, through style and quality, falls into 6 main categories. These are as follows:

Wool Price Schedule Categories

Fine Wool Mainly wool from such breeds as: Charollais, Clun Forest, Dorset, Hampshire, Shropshire, Southdown, Suffolk and their crosses.
Grade numbers range from 203 to 291
Medium Wool Mainly wool from such breeds as: Beltex, Bleu du Maine, Border Leicester, Halfbred Scotch/Welsh, Lleyn, Romney, Texel and their crosses.
Grade numbers range from 305 to 399
Cross Wool Mainly wool from such breeds as: Masham, Mule, Scottish Greyface and their crosses.
Grade numbers range from 403 to 491
Lustre Wool Mainly wool from such breeds as: Bluefaced Leicester, Devon & Cornwall Longwool, Whiteface/Greyface Dartmoor, Lincoln/Leicester Longwool, Teeswater, Wensleydale and their crosses.
Grade numbers range from 503 to 592
Hill Wool Mainly wool from such breeds as: Cheviot, Exmoor Horn, Hill Radnor, Lonk, Shetland, Beulah/Welsh Hill Speckled Face and their crosses.
Grade numbers range from 600 to 699
Mountain Wool Mainly wool from such breeds as: Blackface, Dalesbred, Rough Fell, Swaledale, Welsh Mountain and their crosses.
Grade numbers range from 707 to 791

Soil Content in Wool

With the exception of Grade 205A and 345A, we no longer make soil content grades i.e. Peaty Rubby nor Light Arable – these old grades will be graded for what they are i.e. 233 would be graded into the Fine Grades. Predominantly 232 and 222 i.e. would go into No.2 but if they are of a good enough uniformity and quality they will be graded into No.1 grades. This will be the same format for all of the old Light Arable Grades: 346, 427, 727, etc.


Matchings

Mountain Matchings will be offered during the whole of the selling season and sorted by North of England Wools at Bradford. We approximately make 450,000 kgs of Grade 707 and we are going to sort around half of this amount or more should they prove popular with the Trade. With regards to Mule Matchings, we would offer these but these would obviously only be sorted/available at the end of the grading season.

The grade changes were introduced from the start of the 2014/15 season ie, June 2014 and to help identify this the colour of the bale wraps was changed to green.

We have also made changes within our Depots to ensure that our Quality Control systems are effective in delivering the consistency of product necessary. From a BWMB perspective quality is paramount, and this has been stressed to all our staff from shearing to marketing. We will also be extending our Quality Assurance Scheme and will be revising the criteria in respect of this.

These changes are designed to ensure that our customers have confidence in our product and that British Wool will rightfully be classified as a premier fibre for the textile industry.

It was felt that the grading standards for some of our grades were too wide and not easily understood by some of our customers. New grades have been introduced, some grades abolished and the classification of the grades changed with, hopefully, more user friendly and transparent grade descriptions and one of the major changes is in the ‘Cross Wool’ section with the Mule Grades. One in four fleeces come from these types of wool so these are now graded by certain depots throughout the United Kingdom.

Grade Numbers Depots
461 to 469 Brecon & Newtown
471 to 479 Liskeard, South Molton, Ashford & Stamford
481 to 489 North of England Wools, Irvine, Evanton, Galashiels & Muckamore

Quality Control Grades

Fine Wool

Mainly wool from such breeds as: Charollais, Clun Forest, Dorset, Hampshire, Shropshire, Southdown, Suffolk and their crosses.

Old Grade Current Grade  Grade Description
104 203 SOUTHDOWN/CHAROLLAIS HOGS
104 204 SOUTHDOWN/CHAROLLAIS EWES
121 205 DORSET HORN/POLL DORSET
122 205A DORSET HORN/POLL DORSET LIGHT ARABLE
  221 FINE HOGS No1
  222 FINE HOGS No2
  226 FINE EWES No1
233 232 FINE EWES No2
  290 FINE LIGHT GREY
  291 FINE DARK GREY/BLACK

Medium Wool

Mainly wool from such breeds as: Beltex, Bleu du Maine, Border Leicester, Halfbred-Scotch/Welsh, Lleyn, Romney, Texel and their crosses.

Old Grade Current Grade Grade Description
  305 ROMNEY HOGS No1
  310 ROMNEY EWES No1
  320 ROMNEY No2
  321 ROMNEY DISCOLOURED
  322 MEDIUM HOGS No1
  334 MEDIUM HOGS No2
379 338 MEDIUM EWES No1
347 345 MEDIUM EWES No2
346 345A MEDIUM EWES No2 ARABLE
342 348 MEDIUM EWES DEEP
  350 JACOB No1
  351 JACOB No2
  390 MEDIUM LIGHT GREY
  391 MEDIUM DARK GREY/BLACK
  399 MEDIUM EWES DISCOLOURED

Cross Wool

Mainly wool from such breeds as: Masham, Mule, Scottish Greyface and their crosses.

Old Grade Current Grade Grade Description
  403 MASHAM HOGS
  413 MASHAM EWES
423 461/471/481 MULE HOGS No1
426 462/472/482 MULE HOGS No2
430 463/473/483 MULE EWES No1
427/434 464/474/484 MULE EWES No2
431 465/475/485 GREYFACE
433 466/476/486 MULE KEMPY
417 467/477/487 MULE SOFT COTTS
416 468/478/488 MULE COTTS
490 469/479/489 MULE LIGHT GREY
  491 MULE DARK GREY/BLACK

Lustre Wool

Mainly wool from such breeds as: Bluefaced Leicester, Devon & Cornwall Longwool, Whiteface/Greyface Dartmoor, Lincoln/Leicester Longwool, Teeswater, Wensleydale and their crosses.

Old Grade Current Grade Grade Description
  503 TEESWATER/WENSLEYDALE
  506 LINCOLN & LUSTRE
  545 DEVON/DARTMOOR No1
  548 DEVON/DARTMOOR COTTS
  549 DEVON/DARTMOOR No2
454 554 BLUEFACED LEICESTER
422/432 555 BLUEFACED LEICESTER CROSS
383 583 DEVON CROSS No1
389 589 DEVON CROSS No2
  591 LUSTRE DARK GREY & BLACK
492 592 BLUEFACED DARK GREY & BLACK

Hill Wool

Mainly wool from such breeds as: Cheviot, Exmoor Horn, Hill Radnor, Lonk, Shetland, Beulah/Welsh Hill Speckled Face and their crosses.

Old Grade Current Grade Grade Description
701/601 600 FINE LONK HOGS No1
701/601 601 FINE LONK EWES No1
702 602 MEDIUM LONK No1
703/705 605 LONK No2
704 606 LONK GREY
603 614 CHEVIOT HOGS No1
607 615 CHEVIOT HOGS No2
  616 CHEVIOT EWES No 1
604/621 620 CHEVIOT EWES No2
  630 SHETLAND WHITE No1
  631 SHETLAND MOORIT No1
  632 SHETLAND LIGHT GREY
  633 SHETLAND WHITE No2
  634 SHETLAND DARK GREY & BLACK No1
  635 SHETLAND COLOURED No 2
636 636 HEBRIDEAN No1
638 638 HEBRIDEAN No2
639 639 HEBRIDEAN COTTS
457 647/651 CHEVIOT CROSS No1
459/464 649/652 CHEVIOT CROSS No2
655 653 FINE RADNOR HOGS No1
659 654 FINE RADNOR HOGS No2
655 655 FINE RADNOR EWES No1
658 656 MEDIUM RADNOR No1
  657 MEDIUM RADNOR No2
659 659 FINE RADNOR EWES No2
  668 FINE RADNOR LIGHT GREY
  669 MEDIUM RADNOR LIGHT GREY
374 674 EXMOOR HORN No1
376 676 EXMOOR HORN No2
699 698 CHEVIOT HOGS DISCOLOURED
699 699 CHEVIOT EWES DISCOLOURED

Mountain Wool

Mainly wool from such breeds as: Blackface, Dalesbred, Rough Fell, Swaledale, Welsh Mountain and their crosses.

Old Grade  Current Grade  Grade Description
706 707 SWALEDALE No1
  710 SWALEDALE No2
  711 SWALEDALE COTTS
709 712 SWALEDALE GREY
  718 LIGHT HERDWICK
790 719 DARK HERDWICK
  720 ROUGH FELL
  722 BLACKFACE MATTRESS
727 723 BLACKFACE MEDIUM No1
  725 BLACKFACE FINE No1
733/798 732 BLACKFACE No2
734 735 BLACKFACE COTTS
794/793 736 BLACKFACE LIGHT GREY
660 760 WELSH No1
663/665 763 WELSH No2
666 766 WELSH COLOURED KEMPY
667 767 WELSH HEAVY COLOURED KEMPY
689 789 WELSH STEEL
690 790 BLACK WELSH MOUNTAIN
691 791 SUPER BLACK WELSH MOUNTAIN

Matchings

Old Grade  Current Grade  Grade Description
  444 MULE MATCHING
  777 MOUNTAIN MATCHING
  779 MOUNTAIN SKIRTINGS

BWMB Promotion

Raising awareness amongst consumers about the unique benefits offered by the fibre.

Since its launch in 2010, The Campaign for Wool has influenced a new demand for wool on an international scale, and it’s efforts have seen an outstanding threefold increase in the price farmers receive for their wool.

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