Can Discarded Sheep Wool from Skirting and Tagging be Used as Heavy Mulch in Reforestation to Eliminate the Need for Herbicides?

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2024: $72,542.00
Projected End Date: 07/31/2027
Grant Recipient: Raging Creek Holding LLC
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Walter Hackett
Raging Creek Holding LLC
Jeffrey Stackhouse
University of California Cooperative Extension


  • Additional Plants: trees
  • Animal Products: fiber, fur, leather


  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: afforestation, carbon sequestration, soil stabilization
  • Pest Management: chemical control
  • Soil Management: soil analysis

    Proposal abstract:

    During the shearing process for wool sheep, wool is sorted by
    quality in a procedure known as skirting. Unfortunately, the
    skirting process creates a byproduct, often referred to as "Tag
    wool," consisting of wool from the belly and rear of the animal.
    This wool is typically dirty and saturated with a mix of
    undesirable elements such as vegetable matter, urine, and feces.
    In most cases, sheep producers dispose or incinerate this
    so-called Tag wool, thus incurring a cost. What if there was a
    beneficial way to utilize this byproduct?

    We believe sheep producers have an opportunity to turn this
    byproduct into a valuable resource to be used to aid
    reforestation efforts. Traditional methods of managing competing
    vegetation during seedling development have involved the use of
    herbicides. However, locally, herbicide application is unpopular
    with the general public, due to perceived risk and potentially
    negative environmental impacts. There is a growing interest in
    finding alternative methods to reduce or eliminate the use of

    Our project's primary objective is to evaluate the efficacy of
    utilizing tag wool as mulch instead of herbicides. This will
    involve its application to a prepared seedling site, with
    subsequent comparison of key growth metrics against a site
    treated with conventional herbicides. Upon completion of the
    project, we will host a field trip allowing the project
    stakeholders to visit the testing site and generate a report
    detailing the results. We will disseminate the findings amongst
    the community via social media platforms, a newsletter article,
    and other media channels.




    Project objectives from proposal:

    Create an opportunity for wool sheep producers to use a byproduct
    to establish a new sustainable agricultural practice.

    Raw waste wool may be used as a sustainable, renewable and
    environmentally friendly alternative to herbicides.

    Reduce or eliminate the use of herbicide to establish small
    desirable tree seedlings.





    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.