Dags, Fribs and Monkeys – A Glossary of Wool Industry Terms

Ever wondered what a ‘Monkey’ has to do with the wool industry, or where that Lanolin lip balm actually comes from? Read on to find out what these, and other, common industry terms mean:

Bellies – Short and often defective wool from the belly of a sheep
Blow – The stroke the shearer makes with the handpiece when removing the wool from the sheep
Break Length – Wool that is abnormally weaker in one spot along the fiber
Breech or Britch – Coarse hair fibers on lower hind leg
Dags – Broken or dung-covered wool and other wastes that are swept from the floor of shearing areas
Fribs – Greasy pieces of wool found on the outer edge of the fleece
Gun – The top shearer, or the best shearer in a shed or gang – usually able to shear more than 200 sheep per day
Kemp – Short white (or black) hair fibres that are found on the face and legs of the sheep
Lamb boards – Two wooden or plastic moulded boards used to pick up lamb’s wool and locks
Lanolin – Wool grease; this substance is a secretion from the sebaceous glands of the sheep skin
Locks – Very short wool cut from the fleece by shearers. Either short wool from around the points or second cuts caused when shearers lift the handpiece off the skin and then shear the short fires left on the skin to tidy up
Monkey – The plate used to compress the wool within the press. It is moved up and down manually by bars or by hydraulics; technical name is Platen
Oddments – Term for all other lines of wool other than Fleece i.e. Pieces, Bellies, Locks etc. Wool that does not meet the wool classer’s standards for main lines
Vegetable matter – Any material of plant origin found in the fleece, such as burrs, stickers, chaff and seed heads
Wiggings – Wool is shorn from around the eyes and face – This wool is usually combined with the second cuts and short crutchings to form locks
Line – Each different grade of wool is separated and referred to as a ‘line of wool’ e.g. A line of Fleece, Bellies or Locks
Core testing – The coring of bales or bags of wool for determination of grade, yield and clean content
Hand or handle – The tactile feel of fibre related to the combination of all the fibre characteristics – e.g. stiff, soft, fine, coarse, open or closely woven
Medullated – Fibres which have a medulla, that is, are hollow down the centre. In wool fibres, this creates a different appearance to those which are unmedullated, and effects the dyeing properties
Micron – A unit of measurement used in assessing the diameter of a fibre which equals one millionth of a metre
Raw wool – Grease wool in a natural state before scouring
Soundness – Freedom of the fibre from breaks and tenderness; relates to strength
Carbonising – Removal of burs from wool by immersion in dilute sulfuric acid
Hank – A definite length of textile that varies according to the material – a hank of wool is approx 560 yards
Scouring – The actual separation of dirt, grease and foreign matter from grease wool; this is usually done in a lukewarm, mildly alkaline solution followed by a rinse
Yield – The amount of clean wool that is derived from grease wool in the scouring process; yield is expressed as a percentage