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Polwarth – Year of the Sheep

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While Ashland Bay carries several Polwarth products, we’ve chosen to highlight our 100% Certified Organic Polwarth Wool Top from the Falkland Islands. This wool is specifically selected for Ashland Bay from two family farms on the Islands. These sheep are raised organically and are not dipped for pesticides. The fields they graze in are not chemically fertilized. In addition, the number of sheep allowed to graze in any given pasture area is limited to the natural carrying capacity of the land.

After the sheep have grown in these ideal conditions, the fleeces are then processed in the UK at the Haworth Scouring Company. 

The following two images are from our most recent trip to the UK.

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The Scouring Company is certified by Enco, with the highest environmental standards for wool scouring.  Some of these standards include:

  • Recycle all metal, plastic and packaging materials.
  • No product or process related by- products go to the land fill
  • More than 95% of the water within the scouring process is recycled
  • No chlorine based bleaching agents
  • Dirt, dust, chaff will be collected for agricultural soil improvement
  • Discharge effluent is 104 F or lower
  • Discharge effluent ph is between 6-9

The resulting wool top is ultra white and produced with the least environmental impact.

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History

In the quest for finding a breed of sheep that would be adaptable to a variety of climates in Australia and would produce a finer wool contributing to a more significant income, the Polwarth sheep was developed. The Polwarth sheep was founded in 1880 with the foundation stock of 75% Merino/25% Lincoln. This hardy breed can not only thrive in arid deserts, but also in wet pastures. They are truly one of the most versatile breeds. They are Australia’s first breed of sheep.   Polwarth have been exported into New Zealand, Falkland Islands and South America where they are known as Ideals.

Distinguishing Characteristics

Although the majority of the Polwarth wool is white, a wide range of natural colored fleeces are also available.

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The Polwarth breed has both pooled and horned sheep, the most common is the polled. They are large sheep that also produce a large, fine fleece. They have straight bodies and fewer wrinkles in their skin that makes shearing easier. They are excellent mothers and are known for having a high fertility rate.

Fleece Facts

Polwarth Sheep are prized for their fleece. The selective breeding process that produced the Polwarth sheep contributed to the excellent fleece size and quality.  Polwarth produce a large fleece (10- 14 lbs) with an extremely good yield (75%) for fine wool. The wool has a staple length of 5-7” and a 21-25 micron count. The wool is exceptionally white which enhances the values of the wool.

Another benefit from the cross breed genetics is that Polwarth fleece is very resistant to fleece rot, allowing the sheep to be raised in wet climates. It repels water and dries faster than shorter tighter fleeces.

Higher wool returns (through longer staple length, whiteness, yield and micron count)  coupled with high fertility, survivability and the adaptability to do well in a wide variety of environments makes the Polwarth sheep an extremely desirable sheep breed.

Ashland Bay’s 100% Certified Organic Polwarth will be on sale from August 17-31. To download the Polwarth Sheep card, click here.