ROSEBURG, Ore. -- The Roseburg Wool Pool organized by the Douglas County Livestock Association was started in the 1960s to give small operations another marketing option.

Contracts are sent out in February and due back by the middle of March. A total of 49 producers agreed to sell their fleeces to the high bidder, said retired rancher Howard Henderlong, chairman since 1993. This year it was Pendleton Woolen Mills. Last year the high bidder was Joe Pozzi, a sheep rancher from Northern California who makes bedding and futons.

Pendleton's bid for fleece was $0.4525 for bales and $0.41 for bags. Lower prices were negotiated for lamb's wool and twice-yearly shorn wool.

"Once we know how many fleeces we have, we guess at how many pounds. This year we were hoping for 80,000 pounds," Henderlong said.

"We usually put it on the market around the end of April, before the big sale in New Mexico (on) the first of May," he said.

That involves sending a bid letter to a list of buyers. This year there were three bidders.

After shearing season, which usually runs from late April through June, the sale date was set for July 14.

Keith Stonelake, Pendleton's warehouse manager, was on hand to inspect and tag the bales as they were weighed and loaded onto two trucks, bound for a scouring plant in San Angelo, Texas.

"We consistently get top money for our pool. It sells high and has a good reputation," Henderlong said.

In years past, Roseburg has sold 40,000 fleeces, but the number of sheep in Douglas County has dropped from 125,000 in 1955 to 27,000 today. This year there were about 8,000 fleeces.

"We don't have more than half a dozen big producers in the pool. Several only have a couple bales," Henderlong said.

The bales averaged around 450 pounds each. From that a producer would earn about $185 after the deductions of 2.5 cents per pound for the sheep commission and 1.5 cents per pound for pool expenses.

-- Patty Mamula


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