Bioclipped wool

Have you heard of this shearing technique called “Bioclip“? It was news to me! I saw an ebay listing for bioclipped wool and had to learn more. (You must see the photos in that auction. It is stunning.)

The basics – sheep are injected with epidermal growth factor. The EGF makes the wool break uniformly under the skin. An elastic bodybag of netting (sort of like an onion bag?) is placed around each sheep at the time of the injection to hold the wool together on the body. Four weeks later, enough of it has grown out that it is no longer part of the sheep. The wool is then pulled off like you would remove a sweater.

Photo from Merial

UPDATE: Photo lifted from the aforementioned ebay listing.

How cool is this?!

Advantages seem to abound – no nicks or cuts to the sheep, longer and uniform staple, faster removal of wool, requires no special shearing skills, no second cuts. I think this is especially useful for Merinos and other breeds with wrinkled skin. UPDATE: According to the manufacturer Merial, Bioclip is only recommended for Merinos and half-breed Merinos because they have continuously growing fleece.

I really want to see what the wool is like when it is sheared this way. Is it even done in the US?

UPDATE: According to some online articles, the cost per sheep seems to hover around $6 AUD, which is around $4.50 USD and is also about 2-3x the cost of shearing by hand in Australia. Long-term effects of EGF injections are unknown, but Merial claims that there are no adverse effects (they say it degrades within 48 hours).

26 thoughts on “Bioclipped wool

  1. It would be really nice for a small hobbyist farmer (like me!), depending on the cost. I am having trouble finding someone to shear my two little sheep. SOmething like that could help a lot.

  2. All I could think when looking at the pictures was awwwwwwwww, poor sheep…he must be cold now…LOL! Cool process though…never heard of it!

  3. Wow! What a great idea. It sounds like it is only done in Australia for now, but I would imagine that eventually it will be done everywhere.

  4. I have heard of this, though not very recently. You have to wonder what long-term effects something like this might have on the sheep’s health. I wonder how expensive it is too.

  5. Now this is interesting. I wonder if there are any side effects or long term effects of using the EGF on the shee?. I think I’ll go do some googling.

  6. So very cool. It sounds like it’s a lot more comfortable for the sheep — not getting nicks or cuts. I wonder if there are any disadvantages? (except for shearers being out of work…)

  7. Huh. Nifty.

    Any idea how often sheep get cancer? That’s the kind of thing that “possible adverse effects of growth factors” makes me think about. It sounds like it’s a systemic injection, then, if it affects all of the wool, yes?

  8. That IS really cool, but I’d worry about long-term side-effects for the sheep, too . . . but, some nice advantages there!!

  9. I am really leary of anything using growth hormones. Although it is very interesting, I do wonder about succeeding years fleece quality. Farmers in my area have refused to use the BGH as they found thier animals had shorter lives with more infections. But it sure looks neat!

  10. Very scary, and really, what is wrong with just doing it the way it’s been done, but humanely without mulesing, and with no pay per piece (pay by the hour instead, which would eliminate the roughness in order to shear more to make more money)

  11. You can’t trust drug companies to be honest about their products. They will say anything to get it sold. How many drugs have been deemed safe, only to be hastly pulled from the market due to life threatening effects down the road? Even ones that have been tested and run through the FDA?

    No thank you.

  12. Way cool!

    It puts me in mind of the old photos of Shetland sheep being rooed (I think that’s the term), with a group of people holding them down to pluck the wool off. They were making use of the natural break in fibre that occurs in primitive sheep, but didn’t have the nets, which would have allowed them to undress the sheep quickly and gently.

    A naturally occuring protein already present in the sheep, and they’re spared the trauma of shearing! Having helped out at shearing time, with a really good shearer, I can see that the sheep (and the shearer) must be much less traumatized by the process. Just being quicker has to be a big boon to the sheep; add in no nicks; and no need for a shearer to go back over the uneven areas, and it’s got to be easier on them. And better quality fleece to boot should add an incentive to any shepherds who need it to treat the wool (and the sheep in it) better throughout the year.

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