About 70% of all Australian sheep are pure bred merinos for
the production of fine wool. About 25% are of fine to medium
crossbred types and 5% coarse crossbred.
The principal sheep producing states are New South Wales, South
Australia, Western Australia and Victoria. Approximately 20
million skins are exported annually.
There are three main categories of woolskins: Spring lambskins,
from lambs which have not been shorn: Shorn lambskins, from
lambs shorn and slaughtered later in the season: and sheepskins
from mature sheep.
Production commences about July/August to reach a peak in November
and December. The early skins are of wool length 1.5 - 2.0 inches:
the 2.0 - 3.0 inch length is produced September through November.
Come into production about January and continue thereafter in
wool lengths commencing at 0.5 to 1.0 inches and developing,
as the season progresses to 1.5 to 2.5 inches and longer.
Production, for mature animals, continues all year but is most
prolific in the period of November through February when short
wool sheep are slaughtered. Wool lengths from mature sheep vary
from under 0.5 inches 2.0 inches to 2.5 inches and longer, depending
upon the time of the season.
Two methods are used, air dried and drum salted.