Merino Comfort & Wool Quality for Next-To-Skin Merino

Merino Comfort & Wool Quality for Next-To-Skin Merino

Wool’s place in high-end fashion and suiting is well established but a new emerging market of next to skin merino, base layer merino and intimate merino appeal is gaining momentum.
New merino testing technologies gives these emerging markets, both retailers and consumers alike, consistent results of wearer merino comfort and quality for next to skin merino wear.

merino sports wearWool ComfortMeter And Wool HandleMeter

When evaluating Merino comfort and wool quality for next-to-skin wear, the most common concerns that people have are prickle, allergies, and itch. The misconception that wool lacks the softness that is essential for next-to-skin comfort is based largely on subjective estimates of the fabric’s handle and feel. However, the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) and Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA) have made a break through testing meters available, Wool Comfort Meter and Wool Handle Meter. These two new measures of Merino comfort and wool quality are objective and unbiased and give retailers consistent, repeatable results on the quality of the merino products to ensure a superior merino next to skin consumer experience.

What Are A Fabric’s Comfort And Handle?

Merino Comfort

A merino fabric’s comfort refers to its level of smoothness and wearer experience often referrenext to skin merinod in the past as a level of prickliness. Comfort is dependent on the fibre’s diameter, the spin and yarn finish used in the processing of the wool fibre and the fabric construction.

In general the finer the micron (smaller the number) the softer and more comfort next to skin with fibres of a diameter of less than 18 micron deemed to be comfortable and is suitable for next-to-skin wear.

Superfine merino wool is defined as between 15.6 and 18.5 microns are excellent fabrics for base layer garments and ultrafine merino wool, 15.5 microns and finer ideal for next to skin merino and intimate appeal wear. Hear more about next to skin merino comfort and handle meters and an Australian superfine grower’s bid to ensure the comfort and wearer experience for ultrafine and superfine merino end users as featured on Australian Broadcasting Commission Landline.

Merino Fabric Handle

A fabric’s handle, on the other hand, refers to its softness or feel by hand. The handle is dependent on the fibre’s thickness, density, and weight. Contrary to what most people believe, tests have conclusively shown that a fibre’s comfort and handle are unrelated attributes.

A fibre can, therefore, be hard to handle, but can have a high comfort value with a low prickle. On the other hand, a fibre can be incredibly soft to handle, but can be associated with high prickle or discomfort.

How Can I Evaluate Merino Comfort & Wool Quality For Next-To-Skin Wear?

You may already know that Merino wool garments are sustainable and naturally breathable. You may also be aware that Merino is a moisture wicking and odour resistant fibre.

But are you confident that you want to wear a Merino garment against your skin?

To make this intimate decision, you don’t have to rely on a subjective evaluation anymore.

Two new measures of Merino comfort and wool quality developed following five years of extensive research by Sheep CRC, have taken the guesswork out of Merino comfort and wool quality for next-to-skin wear.

merino next to skinThese two instruments empower retailers and consumers alike by providing increased transparency and confidence that Merino is the fabric of choice for base layers and next-to-skin wear with a superior feel and comfort factor that outperforms all other fibres.

Endorsed by the Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA) as commercially viable and effective methods of assuring quality and comfort, these new technologies are set to revolutionize how consumer expectations are met by providing predictable comfort and guaranteed softness.

1. What Is The Wool ComfortMeter?

The Wool ComfortMeter is a breakthrough technology and is a new measure of Merino comfort and wool quality. It works by counting the number of protruding fibres in a given area of the fabric or fibre and accurately correlates this to wearer comfort.

The higher the number of bulging fibres, the more is the associated discomfort. The Wool ComfortMeter is, therefore, a quantifiable measure of Merino comfort and wool quality for next-to-skin wear. It also has useful commercial applications as a quality assurance test for medical and baby products.

For the benefit of consumers, the predictive value of the Wool ComfortMeter (WCM) has been honed by large scale wearer trials conducted over a period of four years.

How Does the Wool ComfortMeter Work?

  • The meter is non-destructive and scans the fabric placed on its testing bed, providing a single value indicating the fabric’s comfort level, with lower the WCM score the higher comfort level experience for the consumer.
  • There are three comfort level ratings within two wearer descriptions of active wear and every day fashions.

1.1 Active Wear

The active wear description has lower value ratings of between WCM 250 to 400 making it ideal for next-to-skin wear with the average person perceiving no discomfort at this level.

It takes into account the raised skin temperature of the active wearer, which raises the sensitivity of the skin to any irritation and hence the lower WCM value levels for this wearer description.

They are describe WCM values of 250 or less as luxurious and premium comfort next to skin experience at an elite performance activity level.

merino next to skinThese values give a wool comfort level described from luxurious though to everyday comfort depending on the level and intensity of consumer activity and well described in their Next-To-Skin, Wool Comfort & Handle pdf at

1.2 Everyday Fashions

The everyday comfort description group have a WCM value range of 450 to 600 in three user comfort levels.

Again the lower figure WCM value offers the best next to skin comfort experience to the most active consumer within this everyday fashions group.

2. What Is The Wool HandleMeter & How Does It Work?

This is a new measure of Merino (comfort and) wool quality that objectively evaluates the softness of a fabric by measuring the force required to push it through the Wool Handlemeter (WHM) instrument’s nozzle.

Like with the ComfortMeter, the HandleMeter does away with prior subjective assessments and gives a score rating or value on a number of the fabrics attributes including the fabric’s softness, warmness, smoothness, hairiness, and tightness. The WHM gives a value of between 1 to 10, and the higher the WHM value the softer the handle.

Unbiased And Repeatable Merino Comfort & Handle Values

It provides unbiased information about Merino comfort and wool qualityand handle values for next-to-skin wear. The Wool HandleMeter WHM is, therefore, an independent and objective calibration of a fabric’s handle or feel, which overrides previous subjective estimates and language barriers across global supply chains.

ComfortMeter & HandleMeterRead more about these new exciting technologies and down load their brochure at

Is Superfine Merino Wool Ideal For Next-To-Skin Wear?

Quite simply put, yes. New measures of Merino comfort and wool quality, by way of the Wool ComfortMeter and the Wool HandleMeter, have created clear product differentiation.

The bad reputation that wool had for being too itchy and prickly for base layer garments has been decisively repaired. It’s easier than ever for retailers to offer consumers quality merino next-to-skin and active merino wear.

Superfine and ultrafine Merino wool can now be independently certified as the most comfortable next-to-skin garments, offering unrivalled comfort and ultimate customer satisfaction. We now have the opportunity to confidently say that Merino comfort and wool quality for next-to-skin wear is unparalleled by any other fabric.

Non mulsed Australian superfine merino

Barega Merino Farm Biosecurity

Tasmania, Australia’s island state is a unique gem of culture and wilderness adventure, of heritage forests and agricultural niches, pristine lakes and inspirational art. It is the home of Barega superfine and ultrafine merino.

Tasmania is surrounded by the oceans of Indian and Pacific which create a natural barrier that protects the island’s biosecurity status. A closely guarded status that is clean, untouched and disease free, a status that enhances those grow, create and produce within island’s shorelines.

Barega merino farm biosecurity lies beneath this protective umbrella and specifically about further strengthen disease prevention within the property boundary and the region.

Tasmanian farm biosecurityBarega Merino, the Farm

Barega, an aboriginal word meaning the wind, lies with in the northern midlands of Tasmania between the mountain ranges of the Great Western Tiers and Ben Lomond National Park to the east. A family farm of 100% merino, comprising of self- replacing flock specialising in super soft ultrafine merino, breeding easy care new superfine merino and low fat merino lamb. A dryland grazing property with low input system uterlising a diverse toolbox to balance the health needs of our land and our merino sheep for a healthy landscape and ecosystems.

Biosecurity Awareness

We have always been aware of the importance of biosecurity from our backgrounds in health and meat industry. onfarm biosecurity awarenessWe started with good basic animal health and welfare soon realised that we needed to include soil biology and the environment.

Over time farm biosecurity awareness has increased from an internal focus to looking beyond the farm gate to include what is happening with our neighbours, our region, state and country.

Often increased awareness was learnt the hard way, not asking the right questions or information was incomplete when buying stock. We have inadvertently bought in stock with diseases like footrot, lice and quite possible ovine johnes to name a few.

We noticed our saxon merinos had some ongoing health issues with internal parasites and fly strike that necessitated a breeding change with new genetics toward a new easy care superfine merino with an innate resilience and high immunity.

In more recent years, industry bodies have regulated for increased transparency from the prBaregamerino Farm Biosecurity oducer for ongoing documentation and accountability of treatments and applications administered to animals, on animals and the food they ingest.

Biosecurity awareness is a heightened state of mind that allows us as producer specialists to tailor and adapt our responses to our specific individual and regional biosecurity needs. The Livestock Biosecurity Network is freely available and up to date resource with local contacts for help and assistance.

Barega Farm Biosecurity

Tasmanian merino, superfine and ultrafine sheepThe health and welfare of our merinos, grasslands, and landscape are intrigual and pivotal to our enterprise.

Their combined health is reflected in the truly wonderful and natural ultra-soft merino fleece these relationships produce, so the importance of Barega farm biosecurity is paramount.

Our ultrafine and superfine merino is destined to be worn next to your skin, to cocoon your baby and sooth your body and that merino fibre needs to be a pure as nature can provide.

Barega Biosecurity Farm Practise

Barega produces chemical free non mulesed merino and biosecurity is about protecting the health of our merino and our ecosystems on farm and regionally.

Barega Farm biosecurity is about identifying disease risks to our enterprise, reducing those disease risks and or exposure to disease and being proactive with a property biosecurity plan.Farm biosecurity

1.Health and Welfare

Maintaining good animal and plant/soil health is important to optimise natural immunity as first line of defence. We use a diverse range of measures including integrated pest management, a toolbox approach to farm health where possible.

1.1 The land:

Tools we use include herd effect in pest plant control, regeneration and shelter belts for housing beneficial insects, birds and wildlife, rotational grazing system for plant health and encourage plant diversity, minimal to no till pasture renovation, compost teas and inputs that encourage an active soil biology.

1.2 Livestock:

We are proactive in our approach toward disease prevention through good vaccination programs, strategic feed supplementation and treatments, low stress stock handling, match peak stock demands to peak growing periods. Merino rams with specific traits in their Australian sheep breeding values, (ASBVs) to are selected to drive change toward a robust sustainable merino, to read more click here.  Deep plain bodied superfine merino with high worm resistance, their wrinkle free skins producing non mulesed and disease free merino fleeces.

2.Prevention and Monitoring

Risk assessment, disease prevention and monitoring are some of the proactive measures used as part of our on farm biosecurity. Its about ongoing surveillance and being always vigilant and questioning any deviation from normal.


Aware of signs of ill thrift or disease change in lambing percentages or weight gains, wool strength and cut, feedback report analysis and managing stray animal incursions.

2.2The Land:

Our four season climate and impact on the our environment is constantly changing. Keeping the ecosystems and the landscape healthy we monitor grass growth  is monitored ensuring good ground cover, plant density and diversity, rainfall and temperature anomalies.

Our goal is prevention but when there is biosecurtiy breach or disease breakdown the action is prompt with planned farm biosecurity plan processes followed.

Barega Biosecurity Processes over Time

Barega biosecurity processes are dynamic and change to meet new challenges and risks over time. These on property changes are often simple and easy to implement if they form part of a properties biosecurity plan.

Some simple changes on Barega include:

  • Increase reticulated water toughs and reduced water holes to decrease the risk of spread in a footrot incursion.
  • Areas of the property have been securely fenced to be able to securely isolate a flock during a disease threat or outbreak.
  • We regularly monitor which includes testing in areas of increased risk or under performance. Results are reviewed and used for change, for example, to improve or upgrade an on farm vaccination program or use genetics and ASBVs to push a trait change in a particular direction.
  • We review feedback reports from our various accreditation schemes, they tell us if we are doing a good job or it may highlight problem that we have been unaware of.
  • The most recent change is to join a community based biosecurity program and become a collaborative member for the benefit of our farm and property owners in our community.

Cost of Disease on Barega

The cost of disease always exceeds the cost of proactive on farm biosecurity prevention programs. Those diseases not covered by vaccination are often costly in terms of treatment, with varying loss of production and often involves another huge cost……time. Read more about Barega biosecurity response to disease in AWI publication, Beyond The Bale

At Barega merino we look closely at repetitive problems, ask what changes are needed to minimise or element this disease or threat.

Preventative farm biosecurityTo do nothing is not an ethical option, the costs only increase the longer and wider the spread of the untreated disease along with declining health and increased severity of treatment. We have a duty of care and those responsibilities are reflected in our National Biosecurity Livestock Reference Manual, our state animal welfare acts, and industry accreditation schemes.

Grower Farm Biosecurity Commitment

We are passionate about the health and welfare of the merinos, soil biology and our eco systems. We embrace farm biosecurity as it protects and supports the continued welfare of the environment that nourishes the ultrafine and superfine fleece of our merinos.

Tasmanian Farm BiosecurityWe wish the barega merino you wear next to your skin or clothe your baby to be ethical, an experience that is a reflection of our merinos within their protected and sustainable environment in Tasmania, Australia.