Bioclip™ biological wool harvesting

By October 12th, 2010

Bioclip®, a biological defleecing process developed by CSIRO Animal Production with support from The Woolmark Company, was made available to wool producers in 1998. This technology allows wool to be harvested without the use of a mechanical handpiece, improving both the quality of the wool and the welfare of the sheep.

To harvest the wool, sheep are fitted with a retaining net and given a single vaccination of Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF), a naturally occurring protein that causes a break to occur in the wool fibres. One week later the fleece is shed as a whole inside the net, and is easily removed by hand ‘ in a process known as doffing ‘ in a purpose-built mobile trailer.

The vaccination produces a short-lived elevation of EGF in the sheep which returns to normal within 24 hours. The wool begins to grow again after this period. The sheep can be marketed within seven days of treatment.

Advantages of Bioclip® over conventional shearing include:

  • elimination of second-cuts and skin pieces
  • reduced the need for chemicals used to control parasites
  • reduced variability in wool fibre length
  • increased carding yield.

The technology was licensed to the Biological Wool Harvesting Company in 1997.