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These Sheep Farms Pelletize Belly Wool
Pelletizing belly wool from shorn sheep adds value for producers and is a great new product for gardeners. The idea comes from Topsy Farms in Ontario, which started looking for ways to boost income from sheep. They found what they needed in Utah.
“Albert Wilde at Wild Valley Farms had the idea, and we worked out a partnership,” says Jacob Murray, Topsy Farms. “We distribute in Canada, and they distribute in the U.S.”
Murray gives credit to Wilde for sharing what his family had learned on their own and in work with university researchers. The basic concept is to add value to sheep belly wool, which is often discarded at shearing.
Wilde says his wife wanted a way to reduce watering of hanging plants. When he added wool to the soil, the results were so positive, he recognized a market opportunity. Researchers at Utah State University identified nutritional value as well for what is generally considered waste wool.
“If a buyer gives the sheep producer 10¢ per pound today, we hope to at least double that,” he says.
Topsy Farms has begun selling Wilde’s pellets in Ontario as Sally’s Garden wool pellet organic fertilizer. The 9-0-2 grade fertilizer holds up to 20 times its weight in water. It is also a good choice for mulch. As it breaks down, it slowly releases nutrients, while aerating the soil and reducing the need for watering by as much as 25 percent.
Topsy Farms sells a 1 kg (2.2-lb.) bag of pellets for $25, enough to cover 66 sq. ft. of soil. They are experimenting with a 5 kg bag.
Wilde sells 8-oz. bags of pellets for $10.99 and suggests that is sufficient to cover about 15 sq. ft. of soil or to incorporate with 6 gal. of soil at 1/2 cup per gallon. Wilde also sells wool pellets in 22-lb. bags for $135 and larger amounts for wholesale customers.
Pelletizing belly wool and selling it to gardeners and landscapers is only one way that Topsy Farms and Wilde Valley Farms are adding value to their sheep. Topsy Farms sells a wide variety of wool blankets and bedding, yarn and sheepskin products. They also offer tours and special events, as well as offering packages of lamb cuts, young and mature mutton cuts, and yearling lamb cuts from their online store.
The innovative entrepreneurs have even developed a virtual adoption program for orphan lambs that have to be bottle fed. People are invited to “adopt” a lamb for $75. The adopter names the lamb and receives a photo of it. Pre COVID, they were invited to come to the farm and help bottle feed and cuddle with the lamb. Adoptees also get a full birthing history, lamb information and a progress report on their lamb. They don’t get the actual lamb.
“We sell out every year,” says Leah Murray, Topsy Farms. “It is a great way to help us cover the extra labor and cost of these lambs.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Topsy Farms, 14775 Front Rd., Stella, Ont. Canada K0H 2S0 (ph 613 389-3444, toll-free 888 287-3157; info@topsyfarms.com; www.topsyfarms.com); or Wild Valley Farms, 6000 E Croydon Rd., Croydon, Utah 84018 (ph 435-400-4373; customerservice@wildvalleyfarms.com; www.wildvalleyfarms.com).

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #3