MERINO

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The Merino is one of the most historically relevant and economically influential breeds of sheep, much prized for its wool. The breed was originated and improved in Extremadura, in southwestern Spain, around the 12th century;

It was instrumental in the economic development of 15th and 16th century Spain, which held a monopoly on its trade, and since the end of the 18th century it was further refined in New Zealand and Australia, giving rise to the modern Merino

Merino wool is fine and soft. Staples are commonly 65–100 mm (2.6–3.9 in) long. A Saxon Merino produces 3–6 kg (6.6–13.2 lb) of greasy wool a year, while a good quality Peppin Merino ram produces up to 18 kg (40 lb). Merino wool is generally less than 24 micron (μm) in diameter. Basic Merino types include: strong (broad) wool (23–24.5 μm), medium wool (19.6–22.9 μm), fine (18.6–19.5 μm), superfine (15–18.5 μm) and ultra-fine (11.5–15 μm). Ultra-fine wool is suitable for blending with other fibers such as silk and cashmere.

The term merino is widely used in the textile industries, but it cannot be taken to mean the fabric in question is actually 100% merino wool from a Merino strain bred specifically for its wool. The wool of any Merino sheep, whether reared in Spain or elsewhere, is known as “merino wool”. However, not all merino sheep produce wool suitable for clothing, and especially for clothing worn next to the skin or as a second skin. This depends on the particular strain of the breed. Merino sheep bred for meat do not produce a fleece with a fine enough staple for this purpose.