Superfine Merinos for Swiss Conditions
More than 120 sheep live on the Mont Soleil of St. Imier.
Early spring – our lambs in the barn
Late spring – the sheep go out to the pasture
Superfine Bio Merinos
Since 2017 we have been a proud grower of Swiss Superfine Merino sheep with a biologically-farmed flock descending from the very best Tellenby genetics.
For almost 20 years Tellenby has bred a Saxon-Merino flock by selecting the finest genes from some of the best studs in Australia, refined to thrive in European conditions.
These proud rams are the progenitors of our Swiss Merino flock. The rams are Saxon Merinos – one of the earliest strains of Merino developed in Saxony from the original Spanish Merino.
These Merinos are not meat sheep, but wool growers, from a strain of Merino sheep with wool between 16.5 and 18.4 microns in diameter.
15 young rams in the green pastures of Thurgau. This boy-band enjoys quite a stable hierarchy. Their daily fights are mostly for fun. Mostly.
The yearlings already have quite a dense fleece which protects them against the rain. As they get older, the fleece becomes even more dense.
Our Ewes and Lambs
A dozen ewes travelled from Devon to Switzerland. They are currently enjoying the green grass of Huttwil.
The ewes are all very gentle and most of them are very good mothers.
The Wool Tops are spun by FLASA, a company that stands for tradition and highest quality, specialized to spin very fine Wool and fibres.
Flasa made some tests with the yarn, proving that the wool is good and strong enough to produce a yarn of nm 50/1 with a quality which is suitable for weaving and knitting.
For our limited first edition of Swiss Merino products, we have decided to go for a soft not to hard twisted nm 30/2 knitting yarn. The yarn is fabulous.
Our Organic Wool Tops
A white, soft and fluffy dream for every spinner.
The organic wool tops are made exclusively out of the fleeces of our Swiss Merinos. The wool is brilliant white, 17.8 microns (with high curvature), and is extremely soft to the touch.
The wool tops are ready for spinning knitting yarn or weaving yarn.
This wool creates a high comfort experience and can be used for pure Merino next-to-skin wear.
Our Organic Superfine Wool
Our sheep grow chemical-free fleeces of white, deep crimping wool fibre bundles that are a pleasure to handle.
The photos show the wool of one of our 3-year-old rams. He produces a modern type of wool, brilliant white and high crimp, nice staples, short tips. The wool traits are heritable, so the selection of high quality rams and ewes is critical for breeding success.
Our Wool Processor
Our wool is washed and combed at the Pettinatura di Verrone, a leading manufacturer of superfine wool tops and other precious animal fibres.
Pettinatura di Verone, owned by The Schneider Group, a joint venture between The Schneider Group and some of the most prestigious Italian weavers, strives to meet the high quality standards of their most demanding clients.
We are indebted to Giovanni Schneider, CEO of The Schneider Group, and his team, who supported our special project and made it possible to wash and comb our very first and still tiny lot of wool (less than 200kg), while their regular lots start at several thousand kilos.
The sheep are shorn when the fleeces are are between 7 to 9 cm long, i.e. about every 8-10 months.
In these images you can see the first time shearing of an 11-month-old ram by Rolf and Tom, classing our wool.
The fleeces are skirted immediately after shearing. Here Tom, our Australian wool classer, is assessing the quality of the wool and taking away the belly and dirty pieces.
A Young Australian Teaches Local Shearers
Superfine Merino shearing requires quite some practice. The sheep are soft-skinned and boney, they grow fleeces with a lot of lanolin.
Andy Murray, son of former world champion Jim Murray, came from Australia to work in the UK for a summer and he spent some days in Switzerland for the first shearing. He showed Rolf a few tips and tricks about how to best shear our Merinos.
The following video shows our first shearing of Merino ewes and rams in Switzerland.
I’ve been breeding cashmere goats since 2007 and in 2017 I started breeding Merino sheep. Goats and sheep, their behavior, individually, how they live together, how flocks are structured, fascinates me. The group of rams, grazing on the Mont Soleil in the Swiss Jura, behave very differently to how I was told rams would behave.
I could not breed the Merinos on my own. I’m not a farmer and I do not own a farm. But I have found great partners. First, Alexander from Spycher Handwerk. He is a farmer and does all the caretaking of the ewes and the rams we use for breeding, so I can take care of the boy group. Lesley Prior, owner of Tellenby is our advisor and helps us select and pair the right ewes and rams. Lesley is very engaged in The Campain for Wool.
I’m very grateful to have such knowlegable and supportive partners in this journey of bringing Superfine Merino to the Swiss Market.
Alexander Grädel - Spycher Handwerk
Spycher Handwerk was started by my father Hans-Ueli. He started the business by selling spinning wheels and wool at markets and he imported Jakob sheep and Gotland sheep for the first time into Switzerland.
My brothers, my sister have and myself have now taken over the much grown Spycher Handwerk. We now run a wool collecting and carding business, a large shop, which is also offering spinning courses, a farm with camels, wool pigs, donkeys, Alpacas, cashmere and mohair goats and a variety of different sheep breeds.
I manage the organic farm and the animals under the label of Bio-Suisse. I’m a dedicated father of four children and I certainly have the knack of handling the sheep and all the other farm animals.
Cecile +41 79 321 20 91
Alexander +41 79 246 01 30
Spycher Handwerk +41 62 962 11 52