Navajo-Churro sheep are descended from the Churra, an ancient Iberian breed. Although secondary to the Merino, the Churra (later corrupted to “Churro” by American frontiersmen) was prized by the Spanish for its remarkable hardiness, adaptability and fecundity. The Churra was the very first breed of domesticated sheep in the New World. (Source: Navajo Churro Association)
The wool is well suited for weaving and is used predominantly for rugs and blankets. However, the lamb's wool is often as fine as that of other next-to-skin fleeces.
It is especially desirable because of the natural colors produced by the breed ranging from white to black and variations of gray and brown fleece that do not need to be dyed, or can be easily over-dyed.
Our flock includes white, solid black, gray, deep brown and reddish brown. As the individual sheep mature and after their first shearing, their colors are subject to change, so it's hard to predict what our array of available colors will be at any one time. Always surprises!
We process our fleece and do custom processing for our customers.
We aggressively skirt our fleeces to remove not only the obvious tags, vegetal matter (vm), manure, felted ends, etc., but also those parts that we don't want to wash and then have to throw out later. From the skirting table, the fleece enjoys a ride in the tumbler (converted chile roaster) to further knock out loose dirt and vm.
Our typical wash process is geared to Navajo-Churro fleece and includes a hot (130-140F) 30 minute scour, followed by spin dry, 30 minute moderate temperature rinse (115-120F), spin, and a 30+ minute cold rinse. From there it goes to the drying rack.
If the fleece is destined for the carding machine, it goes next through our Belfast Mini-Mill picker, followed by conditioning and on to the Patrick Green Cottage Industry carder.
At each of these steps additional vm and other particles drop out. However, even then, the final product is subject to having some remaining bits stuck in the fibers. All of which goes to reinforce the need to reduce as much as possible the vm at the front end, from sheep management to timely and aggressive skirting.
We weigh the fleece at each stage so we know both for ourselves and for our customers what the yield is and hopefully get some further insights into how to improve our sheep management.
Our normal charges for our fleece products are as follows:
- Raw fleece $10 per pound
- Washed fleece $17 per pound
- Picked fleece $22 per pound
- Carded batts $5 per ounce
The pelts we offer are sent to Bucks County Tannery in Pennsylvania. A long way to travel but we have found that they produce consistently high quality pelts.
Prices vary according to size and overall quality, but typically range from $200 to $250, with most around $225.