How a wool pool works:
the Maryland Wool Pool

The Maryland Wool Pool was organized over 40 years ago to provide local sheep producers with a way to market their wool. Over the years, the pool has had several managers who oversee its operation. The current manager is Rich Barczewski from Delaware State University.

In April of each year, letters of intent are sent out to major wool buyers (only two now). In the letter, the date of the pool (two days in June) and approximate pounds and grades are provided to the buyers. On the day of the sale, the buyers are contacted by phone for their bids. The highest bidder wins the pool. Wool invoice slips are prepared and information is sent out to producers informing them of the prices and procedures for delivery.

Large consignors are asked to bring their wool at pre-arranged delivery times. A work crew of 10 adults and 10 to 12 strong teenagers is organized. Some workers are paid a minor stipend for their efforts; others are volunteers. Wool comes to the pool, is graded, packaged, weighed and loaded onto trucks to be sent to a wool scouring plant, usually in South Carolina.

Checks are mailed to consignors approximately two weeks after the pool. Producers have deducted from their checks a standard deduction that has been calculated from pool operating costs (usually 5.5 to 8 cents per lb.) and Maryland Sheep Breeders Association membership dues, if they sell over $30 worth of wool.

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lined up at the pool
Wool is received on a first come, first serve basis. The collection point is the Maryland State fairgrounds in Timonium.
wool consigner
Fleeces are brought to the pool loose, in garbage bags, sausage bags and large square bales.
sausage bag
Sausage bags (burlap or clear plastic) will not be accepted at the Maryland Wool Pool in 2001.

unloading wool
Before coming to the pool, many producers sort their fleeces according to grade in order to increase the value of their clip.
unloading wool
Producers are expected to help unload their own wool and present it to the grader(s).
grading wool
Each fleece is individually graded by an ASI certified classer, then sorted for packaging and/or loading.
marking wool
Bagged wool is graded by cutting three small holes in the bag and removing locks of wool for inspection.
Wool is graded on the basis of fiber diameter (fineness), staple length, dark fibers and vegetable matter.
weighing wool
After grading, loose wool is accumulated in large bins and weighed on certified scales.
recording sale
A weigh clerk records the number of pounds of each grade of wool that the consigner has.
The pool uses pre-printed receipts which list the grades and prices of wool.
dumping wool
Loose wool in bins is dumped into large piles for later baling.
wool piles
Wool is piled according to class (or grade).
getting paid
After the wool has been graded and taken away, the consigner goes to a table where he will receive a receipt showing his pre-deduction income from wool.
sausage bags
Wool that comes to the pool in bales or sausage bags can be loaded directly into the trucks after weighing, grading and recording.
baling wool
Loose wool is baled into square film bales.
finished baling
Over 400 pounds can be packed into a square bale.
wool bag
Film bags have replaced polyethylene woven bags. They have straps for handling.
square bales
Wool buyers are demanding that wool be packaged in square bales because of lower handling costs.
loading wool into truck
Wool bales are loaded on semi-trucks using a fork lift.

Copyright © 2000.

Created or last updated by Susan Schoenian on 23-Dec-2009 .