I have tried so many different feeder styles to keep the hay out of the fleece. Alfalfa hay is terrible for getting down to the skin and sticking tight in the wool. But I have this different grass hay that seems to have some sticking power like I have not come across before. It gets so tangled in the Angora rabbit's fur that they need to be rescued. I thought some twine had gotten in and wound around the rabbit's foot, but it was just this hay. And it gets to intertwined in the sheep's long wool that it will be impossible to get out. Another year of ruined fleece.
I tried to offer the fleece for free to a spinner's group just out of Edmonton last year, but they did not want to come and get it so I still have it here. There is a lot of very usable wool there, but lots that will need a dedicated wool cleaner or need to be discarded.
I have been honing the keeper's list very carefully. New lambs are about to be born starting in 2 weeks. The purebreds will be kept for sure, though some are presold.They will be shorn and then treated for keds, another reason the fleece is bad this year again. Keds are wingless flies that look and act like ticks. They live their entire lifecycles on the sheep and suck their blood at the skin. The feces from the keds contaminates the wool and gives it an off odor if there are enough of them. There are a few sheep that have way more than others. They were treated once, but the helpers did not show up for the second treatment, so now they will have to be treated when they are shorn.
Gee, for a fibre farm, so far it is zero for four years of fleece. Terrible. The absolute only solution is sheep coats. Sigh. Maybe I will try the t shirts first and see if they last. A coat is $45 and one long wooled sheep will need up to 4 coats in a winter as the fleece grows to prevent matting. A t shirt at the thrift shop is $2 so even if they become rags after the first use, it would only be 8 dollars in a season rather than $45 plus tax and shipping. It is worth a try.
In the meantime, I look at these happy sheep in the hay and want to cry.