Evaluation of Animal Fibers Using Near-Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy

Investigator:  C.J. Lupton

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(updated March 1, 2014)

Non-Technical Summary:

Objective measurements of animal fibers are expensive. The measurements are necessary for producers and scientists to make optimal progress in selection for superior fiber traits and to monitor the effects of nutrition. They are also necessary for effectively marketing and establishing the value of the raw materials and for predicting processing characteristics for the textile industry. This project examines the potential of near-infrared spectrometry to accurately predict important raw fiber properties of wool and mohair and to produce inexpensive (but accurate) test methods.


Develop a fast, accurate, and potentially inexpensive technique for predicting wool base and vegetable matter base of greasy wool using NIRS.

Develop a fast, accurate and potentially inexpensive technique for predicting mohair base and vegetable matter base of greasy mohair using NIRS.


A large number (>2000 each) of pre-measured greasy wool and mohair samples representing the broad range of raw fibers available in the U.S. will be purchased for a nominal fee from the commercial testing lab belonging to cooperator Angus McColl. These samples will have been previously tested for wool base, vegetable matter base, average fiber diameter (and variability), and average fiber curvature (and variability). Each sample will be scanned in duplicate in the visible and near infra-red ranges of the spectrum using a near-infrared spectrophotometer. Subsequently, the stored spectra will be analyzed and prediction equations will be developed for each of the measured properties. Using pre-measured sets of raw fibers that were not included in the calibrations, we will determine the accuracy of prediction of the NIRS technique for each of the properties measured on greasy wool and mohair. When the accuracy of the NIRS predictions approaches or exceeds the accuracy of current standard methods, we will be in a position to advocate use of the NIRS methods by animal fiber testing labs throughout the world.

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