A wool bale is a standard sized and weighted pack of graded and sorted wool compressed by the mechanical means of a wool press. This is the regulation required method of packaging for wool, to keep it uncontaminated and readily identifiable. A "bale of wool" is also the standard trading unit for wool on the wholesale national and international markets.
Following shearing at the farm, woollen fleeces are placed together in "sheets", that is to say large sacks containing about 20 rolled fleeces each. These sheets are bulky yet are light (weighing about 60 kg) and convenient for the small famer to transport to his local wool collection centre. Here they are opened for grading and sorting into one of several dozen different qualities, based on breed of sheep, which dictates fineness of wool, and physical condition of the wool, for example damp dirty or stained fleeces will be graded lowly.Once a sufficient volume of fleeces of a particular grade has filled a grading bin, the wool is compressed into a bale by a packing machine, producing a single bale equivalent to the capacity of some 5 1/2 wool sheets, a weight of 330 kg. Such bales are most economical for shipping purposes, but clearly require mechanised lifting equipment.
The collection process for wool in England has remained the same for many centuries. Shepherds brought their fleeces to a local collection point, for example Chipping Camden for wool from the Cotswolds, where it would... Read More