Good news for British sheep farmers! A collaborative research project called “Fabulous Fibre” is underway, aiming to improve the UK wool industry’s productivity, sustainability, and resilience.

This 12-month initiative focuses on breeding sheep with finer wool, potentially unlocking new opportunities and higher profits for farmers.

Spearheaded by the National Sheep Association (NSA) and collaborating with industry partners, the project will explore the feasibility of reducing the “micron count” of UK sheep breeds. Micron count refers to wool fiber diameter, with lower numbers indicating softer, more valuable wool.

New Project Aims for Finer Fleeces, Higher Profits for UK Wool

Currently, data on individual sheep’s wool quality is limited, making it difficult for farmers to optimize their flocks. Traditional testing methods involve mixed batches from multiple farms, offering little insight into individual animal potential. This lack of information means wool often sells for lower prices due to inconsistent quality.

Producing higher-quality wool offers several advantages:

  • Increased profitability: Finer wool fetches premium prices, boosting farm income.
  • Improved sustainability: By focusing on premium wool production, farmers can potentially reduce their flock size while maintaining profitability, lowering their environmental impact.
  • Wider product opportunities: Finer wool opens doors to new markets like clothing and fashion, expanding the industry’s reach.

The Project in Action

The initial phase involves:

  • Identifying superior breeding stock within Frank Langrish’s sheep flock.
  • Evaluating lambs born in 2024 to assess genetic control of micron count.
  • Testing an on-farm, portable wool tester for real-time data collection.

The initial project focuses on one breed on one farm. However, the team seeks funding for a three-year expansion to benefit all UK wool producers across various breeds.

Benefits for Farmers and the Environment

This project marks a significant step forward for the UK wool industry. By embracing innovation and focusing on quality, British wool has the potential to become a more sustainable, profitable, and exciting sector in the global market.

“When you look at the wool currently produced in the UK there is very little that falls into the lower micron categories,” explains Andrew Hogley, Chief Executive of British Wool. “Where it does, we are able to command a significant premium.” Bluefaced Leicester wool, for example, trades at prices above those for comparable Australian wools.

“If we can produce lower micron wool in the UK it should command a significant premium and will also potentially open up new product opportunities for British wool.

Essential Facts About Wool

Learn more about wool and the industry at Then take a look at at our fact sheets, statistics, and guidelines.