How to Take Samples

People often ask us how to take samples of fibre from their animals, where to take them from, and how big the samples need to be.

Here are a few pictures to give some guidelines – note though that sample sizes can be different for different animals, as sheep or Alpaca for instance are larger than Cashmere goats, but in general, more is better! It will allow us to process the sample and save part of the original as a reference in case of further enquiries or if any additional testing should be required.

We like to be able to test a minimum of 4000 fibres, preferably twice that. The OFDA will report the number of fibres measured in the sample.

This sample would be typical of the size we would like to see for a larger animal, that is, an animal with a fleece weighing more than 500g – in this case it’s a Wensleydale sheep, although this would also be about right for an Alpaca – a good handful.

Typical sample size for Alpaca

For a Cashmere goat, a smaller size is acceptable as it’s a smaller animal – this, for instance, would be suitable – though still enough to fill the palm of your hand.

Typical Sample Size for Cashmere Goat

With the animal securely held (unless it is calm and used to being handled, this is really a two person job), pinch out the sample using the fingers of one hand, like this.

Pinch out the sample

Using clippers or scissors, trim the sample from the fleece at the surface of the animal’s skin.

Note where the sample is taken – ideally, it should be from a spot just behind the last rib, as shown here.

How to take samples using clippers

As you work, put each sample in a seperate bag labelled with the name or number of the animal for us to use as identification on your report and send it to The Fibre Lab at the address below, with a note listing the samples and telling us what kind of test you require. The Price Chart on the Home page shows a list of all the available tests.

We will wash the samples, run the tests and send or email the results back to you.