Cattle grow and shed fibre which assists them adapt to seasonal changes in the environment. In the absence of cattle fibre production data for southern Australia, Angus, Hereford, Simmental and Limousin cows and crosses between these breeds grazing perennial pastures at Hamilton, Victoria were sampled in late winter. The fibre-growing area on the sides of cattle was measured, fibre sampled at the mid-side site and the sampling area determined. Fibre was tested for fibre diameter distribution, clean washing yield and fibre length measured. Cows were 3-7 years of age, liveweights were 412-712 kg and the mean fibre-growing area was 2.2 m2. This produced an average 682 g of total fibre (range 3461-175 g). The mean fibre diameter of all fibres was 51.7 μm (range 43-62 μm) and 18% of fibres were 36 μm (range 6-39%). The clean washing yield was 92.4% (range 87.4-95.8%). Fibre length averaged 21 mm. Increasing the age, liveweight and condition score of cows and increasing weight of clean fibre were associated with significant increases in mean fibre diameter. Breed of cattle did not affect fibre production (P > 0.1) but did affect mean fibre diameter (P < 0.05). The quantity of fibre production indicates potential for low value textile production. The high level of total fibre production, twice that of an earlier report, and fibre shedding from cattle suggests that white fibre-producing animals such as Merino sheep, Angora and cashmere goats and alpaca should avoid using cattle-handling facilities, particularly in the month before shearing.
Field of Research
091012 Textile Technology
Socio Economic Objective
830599 Primary Animal Products not elsewhere classified