- In many wool-growing businesses, Staple Strength (SS) is an important profit driver affecting clean price. SS is heritable and good responses to direct selection have been shown over a reasonable number of years. However direct measures of SS on individual animals is expensive and for many years breeders have used Coefficient of Variation of Fibre Diameter (FDCV) as a proxy for direct measurement of SS, since FDCV is measured and reported automatically when Fibre Diameter is now measured. FDCV is genetically moderately strongly correlated with SS. This makes FDCV a useful indirect indicator of SS, without incurring the expense of measuring individual sheep directly for SS. In recent years, breeders have been measuring their sheep at earlier ages and in shorter wool. There have been questions raised regarding the effect Staple Length (SL) has on the accuracy of SS breeding values.
- As part of our work using data from the Alpaca Owners’ Association (AOA) EPD database to examine whether fleece color affects the expression of fleece traits, we looked at the relationship between color and the EPDs for staple length for over 1300 Huacaya males. We found a pattern that suggests that faster fleece growth rates have a visible dilutive effect on the color we see in fawn, beige and white animals, by increasing the length of the hair relative to the amount of pigment produced to color it.
- The coefficient of variation of fibre diameter (CVFD) within the mid-side fleece sample is currently used to predict staple strength (SS) in Merino sheep (4.5 year old ewes). CVFD measures fibre diameter variation both between fibres and along wool fibres. It has been suggested that selection to improve staple strength should concentrate on reducing fibre diameter ariation along the staple, rather than CVFD. Our results indicate that measurements of fibre diameter variability along the staple had low heritabilities to moderate (0.01 to 0.20) and a low to moderate (0.15 to -0.43) phenotypic correlation with staple strength. In comparison, CVFD was highly heritable (0.78) and had a moderate (-0.44) phenotypic correlation with S. This suggests that there would be no advantage in using measures of fibre diameter variability along the staple as an indirect selection criterion for SS compared with the information provided by CVFD measured in a mid-side fleece sample.
- Fibre diameter, fibre length, and the ratio of fibre length growth to mean fibre diameter (L/D), fibre diameter profile characteristics, and staple strength were examined in 16 fine wool Merino wethers in a 12-month field experiment. Variations in fibre diameter, fibre length, and L/D were shown to be associated with fibre diameter profile characteristics and staple strength. At constant fibre diameter, L/D was significantly positively related to variation in fibre diameter along the staple. A positive correlation between seasonal variation in L/D and variation in diameter between fibres was also observed. Staple length was significantly positively correlated with along-staple variation in fibre diameter and negatively correlated with variation in fibre diameter among fibres. Among-fibre variation in fibre diameter was not significantly correlated with along-staple variation in fibre diameter. Seasonal variation in fibre length growth, fibre diameter, and the ratio of length to diameter throughout the year was associated with increased variation in fibre diameter along the fibre diameter profile and reduced staple strength in grazing sheep. Seasonal variation in fibre diameter was mostly related to mean fibre diameter, L/D, and seasonal variation in fibre length growth rate. Changes in fibre diameter throughout the year were also related to seasonal changes in body weight, fat depth, and skin thickness.